SPEC Seminar, Wednesday, December 7, 2005

November 14, 2005
SPEC Seminar
Wednesday, December 7, 2005 at 11:00 AM
Suite 1250, Partners I, Centennial Campus

Dr. George Gross
Professor, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Challenges and Opportunities in the New Transmission Business

The rapid and wide-ranging changes in electricity restructuring have profoundly impacted all sectors of the power industry. The most profound changes, by far, have come to the critically important transmission sector. These changes affect all aspects of power system operations and planning, the structural organization of the sector, the design of markets, the economics of transmission investments and the formulation of appropriate regulatory policy. Such changes represent tremendous new opportunities for innovative problem solving and development of effective tools to lead to the removal of impediments to vibrant competitive markets. At the same time, an incontrovertible conclusion of the mega-blackout of August 14, 2003 is the fact that the transmission network is the weakest link of the restructured electricity business in the United States. The findings and recommendations in the Final Report of the U.S.--Canada Power System Outage Task Force present the daunting challenges faced in ensuring the reliability of the huge interconnected North American grid.

In this presentation, we review some of the major challenges and opportunities in the evolving transmission business. In the short term, the physical constraints in the power transmission system are making it difficult to realize the potential economic benefits of restructuring. The advances of the current research on economically efficient congestion management and financial transmission rights that correctly accommodate the physical usage and market liquidity are discussed. In the longer term, the major issues focus on the need for incentives in investment in infrastructural components, the role of reliability, the improvement of system security and the effective integration of distributed energy resources (small local generation sources and demand participation). The discussion will describe some of the key challenges and the needs for interdisciplinary approaches due to the nature of the problems. The requirements on the training of the new generation of power system engineers to effectively address these challenges will also be covered.