The Smart Grid and Sustainable Communities

PA573 The Smart Grid and Sustainable Communities
2020 Spring Term (Edition 7.0)

Please keep an eye out for updates on the next round of the course, Spring 2020!

12/9/19 Update: Tuition reflects 2020 rate

Portland State University’s Center for Public Service is pleased to announce that its popular and widely praised course, The Smart Grid for Sustainable Communities, is back after a three-year absence. It explores a set of emerging concepts, technologies, applications and business models that are in the process of transforming the nation’s century-old, centralized power grid into a more decentralized and climate, consumer, and renewable energy friendly “Smart Grid.” These concepts, technologies, and models hold the promise of a significant new paradigm for the generation, use and delivery of electric power that is more efficient, sustainable, robust, flexible, and environmentally sound, and that encourages a much higher level of consumer participation and control.

>>Download the Course Announcement

Graduate Credit

Non-Credit Professional Development

  • PA573: The Smart Grid and Sustainable Communities
  • CRN: TBA
  • Earn 3 graduate credits
  • Tuition: $1,302 and additional university fees

  • Earn a Professional Development Certificate
  • Cost: $1,302 and no additional university fees
  • Registration will remain open for mid-career professionals until 5:00pm on 4/16/20. Since all sessions will be recorded and placed in the course archives, anyone who registers for the course after the first session will still be able to view the recordings at their convenience on their devices.  












Want to learn more? Download the draft syllabus or read below for more information.


This interdisciplinary course is co-taught by a team of academic and private sector specialists, supported by national and regional experts who will participate as guest speakers. The course will include “real world” projects that will allow the student teams to explore if and how the Smart Grid and related technologies and approaches can support sustainable development and a cleaner energy future.   In addition panels of expert advisors will help the faculty guide the student teams.  Optional field trips may also be provided if there is sufficient student interest.


The course will help prepare students to contribute to grid modernization as project developers, engineers, program managers, policy analysts, business analysts, attorneys, economists and other key positions. It will also serve as a valuable resource for those who may not want to focus their careers on energy related issues but appreciate the value of knowing more about how the transformation taking place in the energy sector can support other aspects of sustainable development.

>>Learn more about the course (Course Fact Sheet)

Who Should Register?

This course is designed to serve three key audiences:

  • Graduate students from a variety of programs interested in receiving graduate credit from PSU‘s College of Urban and Pubic Affairs; and

  • Mid-career professionals interested in advancing their careers and receiving special Certificates of Completion from PSU’s Center for Public Service.

  • Students pursuing PSU's new Graduate Certificate in Energy Policy and Management, for which PA573 is one of the Focal Area Courses 

Course Details

  • April - June, 2020, Time TBA

  • Classroom TBD
    506 SW Mill St., Portland, OR 97201

  • Led by Dr. Hal Nelson and Mr. Mark Osborn, plus many guest speakers including Mr. Jeff Hammarlund who have taught the course for many years.

  • Continuing Legal Education Credit will be available

Topics Covered

  • An introduction to the existing grid and the grid transformation process that is currently underway;

  • The emergence of new (and some say “disruptive”) technologies and financing approaches, the resulting calls for new business and regulatory models associated with the “utility death spiral”, and their relationship to the Northwest’s energy profile;

  • How grid modernization can enhance the value and effectiveness of wind, solar and other valuable but intermittent renewable energy resources;

  • Key energy policy issues, challenges and opportunities that have emerged or are on the horizon as a result of this grid transformation;

  • California’s role as a hub or energy innovation;

  • New strategies to support the integration of more wind, solar and other cleaner but more intermittent and distributed forms of energy;

  • The emerging roles of Energy Imbalance Markets and new approaches to distribution system operations and planning;

  • Challenges and opportunities associated with “Internet of Things”, communications standards & interoperability, and cybersecurity;

  • Grid defection, solar technologies, and net metering policies;

  • New technologies and approaches to energy storage;

  • The role of microgrids and “community solar” strategies;

  • The benefits of energy system resilience to address earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural disasters;

  • Emerging and next generation technologies and approaches

Distance Learning Options

Do you live outside the Portland metro area or expect to be out of town for a couple of class sessions? We've got you covered through Distance Learning. >> Learn more about our distance learning options


We would like to thank the Portland General Electric for their continued support!

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Course Withdrawal Policy

Please see the Center for Public Service's course withdrawal policy for details

Contact Information

Josh Metzler
Program Coordinator