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Grid Strategy 2011: Conservation Voltage Reduction and Volt VAR Optimization in the Smart Grid

Beginning in the 1970s with the oil embargo, utilities began looking for ways to increase the efficiency of the power distribution system, to reduce peak demand, and to conserve energy. During this period, several utilities began to test the concept of lowering the voltage to lower the demand and energy consumption on the power delivery system. As climate change and global warming became serious issues in the early 2000s, utilities began looking at Conservation Voltage Reduction (CVR) programs once again as a way to conserve energy and avoid emissions. Old became new as CVR programs began to rise in popularity. With 20 years of technology improvements and communications having been established to distribution equipment, the focus of minimizing demand and energy consumption on the system shifted to controlling both the voltage and volt ampere reactive (VAR) levels in near real time via Volt-VAR Optimization (VVO) programs. In response, the Smart Grid Demonstration Project chose CVR and VVO as one of its Strategic Topics for 2011.

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