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Mode Meter

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

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Technology Marketing Summary

Electricity grids have traditionally been monitored using systems based upon dated and slow communications and computational technologies.  A large effort is underway in the electricity industry to replace those legacy systems with high-speed and accurate monitoring units call “phasor monitoring units,” or PMUs.  Real-time phasor measurement systems provide significant opportunity for real-time monitoring of a grid’s stability state. Such monitoring will enable new stability-based control systems that allow for reliable increased transmission flows over paths that are today stability limited. When considering electromechanical dynamics, which is the dominant stability effect in many systems, we term the fundamental science for such a monitoring system a “mode-meter.” PNNL has done work aimed at development of signal-processing algorithms and applications that are the basis of a mode meter and its application.


Real-time knowledge of a power system’s electromechanical modal properties is becoming critical for the improved operational reliability of interconnected grids. A given mode’s properties are described by its frequency, damping, and shape. Modal frequencies and damping are useful indicators of power-system stress, usually declining with increased load or reduced grid capacity. Mode shape provides critical information for operational control actions. The PNNL research team has developed several mode meter algorithms that have potential commercial value.

Technology Status
Technology IDDevelopment StageAvailabilityPublishedLast Updated
IPID 15786, 15967, 15449DevelopmentAvailable03/11/201103/11/2011

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To: Jennifer Hodas<>