DOE Office of Electric Transmission & Distribution (OETD)

Back in March, we thought announcements were imminent. (See UFTO Note ? T&D R&D Gaining Attention, 21 Mar 2003.) Little did we realize the kinds of struggles that would ensue internally in DOE over which people, programs and budgets would be won or lost by which office. The new office started its work nonetheless, judging from numerous appearances by its chief, Jimmy Glotfelty, and several planning and roadmapping meetings over the spring and summer. And the dust has settled internally.

OETD officially “stood up” on August 10, but the big August 14th blackout made for awkward timing for a press release–none has been issued. (In fact, until an appropriations bill passes, I’m told they aren’t actually officially “up”.)

A new website quietly appeared on August 21. If offers a first cut at describing the Office and its scope of responsibilities and giving links to planning documents:

[This site has a good compendium of information on the blackout, however for the 12 Sept announcement of the release of a report on the events sequence, go to the DOE home page,]

**National Electric Delivery Technologies Vision and Roadmap**
There’ve been two major meetings this year, one in April and one in July. In chronological order:

April 2003 Vision Meeting Proceedings (PDF 1.1 MB)
[65 people attended, of whom only 8 represented utilities]

Results of the April meeting are given in this vision document**. [The results of the July meeting will be reported in a few more weeks.]:

“Grid 2030” — “A National Vision for Electricity’s Second 100 Years,

**DOE’s National Electric Vision Document
(Final version, July 31, 2003) (PDF 1.2 MB)

Proceedings for National Electric Delivery Technologies Roadmap,
July 8-9, 2003 (PDF 1.0 MB)
[About 20 utilities were represented, with less than 40 people out of 200 participants.]

Glotfelty’s kickoff presentation July 8:
“Transforming the Grid to Revolutionize Electric Power in North America” roadmap opening 07 08 03.pdf


No personnel are identified on the new website (other than Gotfelty and Bill Parks, Assistant Director), and no org charts shown. The most complete descriptions of the programs appear in a series of factsheets:

The work of OETD follows these earlier developments: (see reliability program materials at

— The National Energy Policy (May 2001) calls for the Department of Energy to address constraints in electric transmission and relieve bottlenecks.

— The National Transmission Grid Study (May 2002) contains 51 recommendations for accomplishing the President’s National Energy Policy and speeding the pace of the transition to competitive regional electricity markets.

— The Transmission Grid Solutions Report (September 2002) provides guidance for priority actions to address congestion on “national interest” transmission corridors.

OETD conducts research in several areas:
–High-Temperature Superconductivity
–Electric Distribution Transformation
–Energy Storage
–Transmission Reliability

One participant at the July meeting told me he thought that DOE seems to be in the thrall of superconductors and other mega-technology solutions, and giving short shrift to distributed generation, microgrids, and other common sense approaches.

As for budget, through the end of Sept (FY03), OETD is operating on funds already committed to the programs that were brought in. Of roughly $85 Million in FY’03, high temperature superconductors have $40 M, and $27M was subject to Congressional earmarks. The FY04 budget request has a new line item for electric power infrastructure, and hopefully will provide more resources in FY05) explicitly for transmission reliability. Another observer said that the future program will be more balanced as a result.

The R&D plan is based on a 3-level architecture:
1. “Supergrid”, or coast to coast backbone for power exchange. (superconducting)
2. RegionGrid
3. CityGrid, ultimately involving fully integrated 2-way power flow, microgrids, etc.

Planning and analysis tools are needed at all 3 levels. The Supergrid is a longer term goal, operational perhaps in 10-15 years. Other near term elements include sensors, storage, and DC systems.

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