Powernet - A Cloud Based Method for Managing Distribution Resources

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory


Menlo Park, CA

Recipient Location


Senate District


Assembly District



Amount Spent



Project Status

Project Result

The project wrapped up this year. The project team completed large-scale simulations (up to 10,000 buildings), modeling different DER deployment scenarios, markets and levels of penetration of renewables. Researchers quantified the stability and performance limits of the algorithms to guide real-world deployment. The team then deployed Powernet in 11 houses in Fremont, CA to test communication between different devices and the cloud and to validate the algorithms developed in simulations. This demonstration validated the modeling, bringing the system closer to commercialization. The recipient has received follow-on funding from ARPA-E to develop a home hub to coordinate DER technologies and smart appliances and integrate the hub with Powernet.

The Issue

The power grid is changing rapidly. In California, renewables on the utility side of the meter are expected to provide 50% or more of the electricity supply by 2030, requiring significant distributed energy resources (DERs) to help integrate those renewables. Additionally, greatly expanded numbers of DERs, such as distributed solar, storage, and EVs, are expected on the customer side of the meter and on the utility side of the distribution grid. There is an urgent need to coordinate all these resources to minimize costs, increase consumer quality of service, preserve grid stability and offer services to the grid.

Project Innovation

This project was designed to further develop Powernet, a cloud-based platform for managing energy resources in homes and businesses. Powernet was developed to control and coordinate energy resources both behind the meter and at the distribution system level for residential and commercial ratepayers to: (i) minimize costs, (ii) increase consumer quality of service, (iii) preserve grid stability and (iv) offer services to the grid.

Project Benefits

Several significant Powernet system innovations were developed under this agreement: (i) the integration of control, optimization and power electronics enables novel functionality that includes stable connect/disconnect from the grid, local and global power sharing, and grid services including demand response; (ii) the development of a layered system structure that enables the operator to utilize Powernet for a variety of different grid purposes or service offerings; (iii) the design of the system to secure; and (iv) the adoption of open source standards and protocols for the platform to enable scalable engagement of devices in the future.

Lower Costs


There will be economic savings to using Powernet. Every home and business will need to pay only once for installation of the Powernet and can then progressively add DERs on its own. The cost of adding more DERs, at a home or faci

Greater Reliability


Powernet will allow for greater control of a diverse set of behind-the-meter resources, which will enable greater reliability of the grid.

Key Project Members

Project Member

Laura Schelhas

Staff Scientist



United States Navy


Contact the Team