QuickStab: Calculates Maximum Transmission Load and Stability Margin

(Two years ago, the developer of this program was referred to UFTO by DOE, and an UFTO Note was done at that time. Since then, the need has become even greater; there have been improvements to the code; and it has been implemented by a major utility.)

With deregulation, privatization and open access transmission, energy transactions across large electrical distances become commonplace, and can cause major wheeling power flows which, in turn may bring the networks near their limits of stability and loadability.

However, power systems cannot be operated safely near the state of maximum loadability. A much lower load level needs to be defined such that all thermal, voltage and stability constraints are met. NERC calls it the Total Transmission Capability (TTC) and recommends to further reduce it by a Transmission Reliability Margin (TRM) to account for uncertainties. This value must be further adjusted by the Capacity Benefit Margin (CBM) to finally determine the system loading that guarantees full operating security.

The safe operating limit, however, is highly dependent upon topology, voltages, number and location of generators, and other system conditions. For dependable on-line decision making, this limit must be reassessed in real-time for every single change of the operating state.

Critical states occur at or close to the TTC. This limit is not constant. It depends on the generation, customer demand and transmission network conditions, and must be computed from the real-time conditions of the transmission network. Such a capability is needed both in real-time and for postulated conditions, but detailed stability methods are time consuming and require data that may not be readily available.

QuickStabTM answers this need. It identifies both the point of maximum power transfer and the distance to it without computing load-flows. In other words, it predicts the maximum loadability from any operating state, even if far from the limit conditions. This feature is one of the most particular aspects of the short-circuit currents nodal analysis and cannot be found in other algorithms.

Starting from a power-flow or state estimator base case, it computes the system’s MW loading limit such that voltage collapse and steady-state instability do not occur. Then it shows which units and tie-line injections are most likely to cause instability; provides information that can help develop a remedial action strategy; and identifies the P-V points of successively degraded states towards instability. Quickstab also determines the system MW loading for a user-defined security margin.

Results are displayed in a unique, easy-to-understand graphical format. The computations are extremely fast. For example, the solution of a 300 bus case on an inexpensive PC takes just 0.44 sec. Most recently, the QuickStabTM computational modules were enhanced and recompiled with Microsoft C/C++ version 6.0 in a Windows NT 32 bit native environment. The program also runs under Windows 95/98. It is Y2K compliant.

QuickStab’s solution technique is based on the short-circuit currents nodal analysis method, which was perfected in Europe in 1961 and became a “classic” in the voltage-stability circles in 1980. Two studies sponsored by EPRI and Southern Company Services (Southern) in 1990-1993 demonstrated the speed and validity of the approach.

It is now field-proven. In 1998, QuickStab was adopted by Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo CESP, in Brazil, and by Oficina de Operacion del Sistema Interconectado OPSIS, in Venezuela. CESP uses the program both off-line, on PCs under Windows 98, and in real-time on Digital Alpha processors under Digital Unix. OPSIS uses QuickStab for real-time only. These two EMS implementations of QuickStab were provided by ABB-Bailey Network Management as part of its RANGER baseline.

QuickStab offers significant benefits. It can help increase revenues from wheeling power while meeting higher MW demand and reliability requirements. It can be used on-line, embedded in or as an add-on to an existing EMS. And with its modular design and ANSI C compliant code implementation it can be easily integrated with third-party load-flow, contingency analysis and security assessment programs.
QuickStab is available now to utilities, consultants and universities, under a range of license options.

For additional information, or to make arrangements for a presentation, contact:
Dr. Savu Savulescu
SCS Computer Consulting, Fresh Meadows NY
718-264-7563, savu.scs@worldnet.att.net

Zinc Air Fuel Cell

The idea for zinc/air batteries, or fuel cells, has been around for a long time, and in the last couple of years Electric Fuel, an Israeli company, has been getting a lot of press. More quietly, Metallic Power near San Diego has been developing a rapidly refuelable system with a wide range of applications, and is about to start publicizing its story. These notes are adapted from the company’s draft announcement materials.

The rapidly refuelable fuel cell is reliable power source that is quiet, safe to handle, emission-free, recyclable and cost effective – and “recharges” in five minutes.

The fuel cycle uses Zinc, as a completely recycled, clean, nontoxic, and non-flammable fuel. Inside the closed fuel cell, zinc pellets (1mm diameter) are combined with oxygen from the air, forming zinc oxide (a safe white powder used in skin creams and sunblock) and releasing large amounts of electricity. The reaction takes place in the presence of potassium hydroxide, the same liquid electrolyte found in alkaline disposable batteries. Water, used as a reactant in the process, is recycled automatically within the fuel cell.

Five-minute refueling: the Zinc pellets are pumped into the fuel cell with the liquid electrolyte from a vending-machine-sized zinc recycling/refueling unit. Simultaneously, zinc oxide is pumped through a hose from the fuel cell to the “vending unit” as a mixture with liquid electrolyte.

After refueling, the “vending” regeneration unit uses electricity to slowly convert the zinc oxide back into fresh zinc fuel pellets, and oxygen is released back into the air. ItÕs a completely closed-loop system, with nothing to add, nothing to discard, nothing wasted, and three times the energy efficiency of a gasoline engine.

Metallic Power has patents pending or in preparation for new air cathodes, electrolyte management, sealed replaceable refueling cartridges, regeneration equipment design and zinc fueling technology.

The big difference with Electric Fuel’s approach–that system involves a sizable facility to swap out the entire cell, which then must be shipped back to a factory to be completely rebuilt. The factory would be a multimillion $ installation, compared with a few $thousand for an on-site vending-machine sized unit. (Note that Electric Fuel did not get a go-ahead from the German post office after a much publicized demo, and is now emphasizing development of disposable cell-phone batteries.)

Specific energy output currently is at 160 watt hours/kg with a potential of 220 Wh/kg, compared to lead/acid at 35 Wh/kg and lithium-ion at 100 – 120 Wh/kg. Energy density is 200 watt hours/liter, much better than lead/acidÕs 75 Wh/liter. Recharge time for a lead/acid battery is eight hours compared to zinc/airÕs five minutes. Long term potential includes fuel cells for electric cars with a range of 300 miles.

Near term applications include: Industrial Non-Road Vehicles (e.g., maintenance carts and fork lifts), Turf Maintenance (e.g., golfcourse mowers); Motor Scooters (especially in Asia); and Commercial Back-up Power Sources (e.g., telecom and marine industry generators). Note the emphasis on small “fleet” style operations whose controlled environment can adapt most readily, and support an on-site vending/regeneration unit.

Current customers and partners include:

– Toro, manufacturer of turf maintenance equipment,to facilitate quieter morning and night-time mowing and less damage to golf course greens.

– Textron, manufacturer of Cushman and E-Z-GO small utility vehicles, to increase availability and decrease down time.

– U.S. Army, testing prototypes for silently powering electronic equipment in forward military positions.

– South Coast Air Quality Management District, supporting clean-air technology demonstration

– U.S. Dept of Transportation, supporting advanced transportation technology development

– ABB, to supply power electronics and product integration for backup power systems based on the company’s zinc/air fuel cells

The Zinc/Air Fuel Cell will reduce operational costs as compared with lead-acid battery powered equipment because instant refueling eliminates the need for duplicate equipment and batteries. Overall cost of ownership should be comparable to or lower than that of gasoline powered equipment.

The company demonstrated the world’s first zinc pellet powered vehicle in Sept 98. It was powered by a 2.2kW (3hp) unit and ran for several hours. An improved version at 4kW and 48 volts (an alpha prototype) will operate for at least 100 hours by Sept 99 together with the alpha prototype zinc regeneration unit.

Currently, the company is signing up customers for a beta prototype three month rental program for 48 volt units in the year 2000. Interested parties should make contact soon, because half of the 50 fuel cells in the program are already booked. Commercial production is anticipated in late 2001.

Metallic Power will begin raising a second round of equity funding in a few months, and a detailed business plan will be available to potential investors.

Jeff Colborn, Chairman & CEO
Metallic Power Inc., Carlsbad, CA, (near San Diego)
760-804-7600 x116 jeff.colborn@metallicpower.com

Company website (available in late March) http://www.metallicpower.com

“Breakthrough Technologies” Newsletter

Subject: UFTO Note – “Breakthrough Technologies” Newsletter
Date: Tue, 16 Mar 1999


Special Offer to UFTO Member companies!

The note below, along with the free copy of the the newsletter, was mailed recently to the primary point of contact at each UFTO company. Contact Mills-McCarthy directly if you would like your own copy to review. Also attached, a story from the newsletter about UFTO.

For a number of years, Mills-McCarthy published the “ElectroTechnology Report” newsletter. This is being changed to “Breakthrough Technologies”. Some earlier material can be sampled at their old website http://www.electrotechnologies.com/

A new site is in preparation and will be available soon at http://www.breakthroughtechs.com


A publication of:
Mills-McCarthy & Associates Inc.
8319 Kerry Road
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
301.718.9600 fax 301.718.7806


Attached is a complimentary copy of the February issue of the newsletter Breakthrough Technologies. Ed Beardsworth asked that we send you a copy both to bring to your attention the article about UFTO, and to invite you to subscribe.

This national newsletter focuses on the new and emerging technologies that may be of interest to electric utility customers. We have for years focused on the emerging, or “just over the horizon” technologies because of what they provide in helping us all to understand the direction of technology change. Often, subscribers find new opportunities, ideas for customer programs, and sometimes useful technologies for adding a little PR ‘shine’ to existing customer programs.

As an UFTO member, should you be interested in subscribing, we will provide you with a couple of complimentary benefits. We’ll send you the two most recent back issues (they will not be counted as part of the one-year subscription period) and a copy of our year-end 1998 Breakthrough Technologies book. The book, which normally retails for $199, contains over 100 articles from nearly three years of the newsletter.

If you’re interested, you can simply fax back the form below and we’ll invoice you.

FAX THIS FORM TO 301 718-7806 & we will invoice you.

o Please enter my subscription for $199 & ship my complimentary book & two immediate back issues.

Ship to:
Name __________________________________________________________
Company __________________________________________________________
Address __________________________________________________________
Phone/fax __________________________________________________________


301.718.9600 fax 301.718.7806 e-mail Mark_P_Mills@hotmail.com

Consortium Keeps Utilities Tech-Savvy Tracking Innovations from the National Labs

These days, it’s important for utilities to maintain their competitive edge by staying in step with every source of new ideas. One venerable and enormous source of technology ideas is the national laboratory system. The national labs continually generate new and innovative technologies: cheaper magnetic levitation for trains (BTR 4/98), electric solutions for difficult soil contamination (2/98), and plasma generated in the open air instead of a vacuum (10/97) for cleaning are just a few examples of the thousands of projects under way at the labs. Many of these projects have the potential to revolutionize industry and thus serve as important marketing and customer relation tools for utilities.

How is a utility to stay abreast of what’s going on at the labs, and sort the ‘wheat from the chaff’ to find those truly innovative technologies that are of particular interest to their customers? An ideal solution would be to assign someone to go out and visit the labs and generate a report customized for a particular geographical location, customer make up, etc. This is the approach that Ed Beardsworth has taken in his group which promises to be a utility’s “eyes and ears” at the national labs on a cost-shared basis. His group, Utility Federal Technology Opportunities (UFTO) is a multi-client program aimed at “investigating technologies of interest and benefit to energy utility companies in US government laboratories and agencies and elsewhere.”

“It’s nothing that the utilities couldn’t do themselves, it’s just impractical for them,” he told BTR. “I do it for them — a full-time extension of their staff — on a cost-shared basis.” Beardsworth explains that utilities need to know about new technologies for traditional reasons — cost reduction, enhanced efficiencies, etc., and for a new reason– competitive advantage. “I do the networking to uncover the opportunities that could be of competitive significance,” Beardsworth notes.

UFTO’s premise is that utilities need technology (both for traditional operational purposes, and for new business opportunities), and that the R&D programs of the U.S. government represent a huge repository of technology, much of which is directly or indirectly relevant to utilities.

Mission — possible

Beardsworth says the program maintains a mission to seek out those technologies obviously relevant for member utilities, and also to cover more subtle issues relating to the uses of new technologies. Other goals include acting as something of an “investigative reporter,” as well as producing a customized clipping service, staking out positions, lining up deals, and providing resources on call, including working with investors. Generic program research results are provided to all members, and also individualized for the needs of each member.

UFTO also provides conference coverage and updates. There is a membership limit of 15, so that a high level of service can be maintained. Membership currently includes 11 utilities — Cinergy, Northern States Power, Texas Utilities, Wisconsin Elec. Power, Commonwealth Edison, Electricite de France, Arizona Public Service, Central & South West, Southern Calif. Gas, KeySpan Energy, National Power (UK). UFTO makes extensive visits to facilities, and prepares detailed reports, summarizing programs, capabilities, culture, and technologies available to industry (often before they are publicized). “In the past several years, we’ve learned a great deal about the programs at nearly all the major DOE laboratories,” says Beardsworth. “We’ve developed personal relationships with the people in the labs, and they know to contact us when they have something to discuss with utilities.” Beardsworth says the laboratories benefit from the exposure. “We’re a marketing asset to them,” he says. They’re happy to have any help in publicizing and receiving support to bring projects to the commercial level. “When I go to a lab, I represent the consumer coming shopping. It’s free marketing support for the lab.”

Member Bill Muston, Texas Utilities, offers this: “UFTO gives us a sense of what is happening in the national labs on a very cost-effective, customized basis, without having to visit the labs.”

(For more information, contact Ed Beardsworth at 650-328-5670, fax 650-328-5675, e-mail at edbeards@ufto.com, or visit ufto’s website at http://www.ufto.com.)

Sagging Line Mitigator

Sagging Line Mitigator (SLiM)

This unique device would replace or work with standard insulated hangers on power transmission towers, to counteract the effect of temperature on the sagging of overhead transmission lines. This allows increased line ampacity (load current capacity) of existing lines during curtailed summer months, reduced tower heights, and/or increased tower spacing. This device will significantly reduce the risk of forest fires and outages caused by sagging lines, increase the efficiency of energy transfer, delay the need for additional line capacity, and delay the construction of new lines.

The design philosophy is: “Because of the unpredictable nature of ambient temperature, elimination of the sag must be accomplished by a device which operates based on the same change in temperature.”

This automatic mechanical device would counteract axial expansion and hence sagging of suspended lines, such as those used in overhead electric transmission lines, due to ambient temperature increases. The device keeps the profile of the line and hence its sag constant and independent of ambient temperature changes. This device works on the same principal as the axial thermal expansion mechanism of the line but reverses its impact on the sag. That is, as ambient temperature increases (or decreases) so does the line length and its sag. The same ambient temperature change will increase (or decrease) the length of an actuator. The change in actuator length is amplified and transferred through a series of mechanical linkages comprising of lever-type devices, cogs, gears, or alike to contract (or extend) the line connections to the device such that the increase (or decrease) in line length is compensated for.

Several concepts are considered for the actuator. One uses a material with a high thermal expansion coefficient and a high compressive modulus of elasticity. Another uses a series of shape memory alloys for response to temperature changes. Yet, another uses an incompressible fluid with a high bulk modulus. Either device can also be “heated” for higher performance by wrapping it in a “heater coil” powered by the magnetic flux of the power line.

The inv

Fwd: McIlvaine Co. offer

McIlvaine Company

Here is a copy of our “Power Plant Questions of the Month”. We propose to email it to you each month for the next year free of charge. We believe if we can demonstrate the value of our information you will want to know more about our Power Plant Knowledge system. We think that one of these months you will find one of these subjects to be important enough to want to explore it in depth and then we can make our sales pitch.

To sign up for your free subscription just click on the reply button on your browser and reply to this e-mail with a “yes” typed in the response.

For more information on the McIlvaine Company see our web site at: http://www.mcilvainecompany.com


The answer is maybe. The bigger utilities with a number of affected plants are faced with only a few outages over the next three years. AEP and TVA have lined up partners in order to nail down the availability of engineering and equipment. But some of the mechanical contractors are already reporting full shops and a heavy workload. The secret is going to be maximum effort now to finalize plans and line up contractors. Those utilities who wait until 2001 are going to be out of luck.

Combustion modifications can result in accelerated tube wastage and unburned carbon in the fly ash. SCR problems include arsenic poisoning of the catalyst and ammonia slip. In fact, California and Massachusetts are toying with regulations to require zero ammonia emissions. But even absent regulations ammonia can cause problems. It can plug up your air heater and it can contaminate your fly ash. Buyers will definitely react negatively to ammonia contaminated fly ash? Some of the vendors say their methods of ammonia distribution and control eliminate this problem. Others say the answer is a staged system.

We are not going to devote too much attention to NOx issues in this Overview because we have a NOx Chat Room with detailed discussions of all these issues. It is free and easily accessible on our web site.

To go to the NOx Chat Room click here: http://www.mcilvainecompany.com/discuss.

Many utilities are actually emitting less NOx and SOx than they are reporting. Flows are actually 5% lower than instruments are indicating. This could be worth $ millions per year to the medium size utility.

EPA has amended sections of Part 75 to provide more accurate measurement of NOx mass emissions. The question is whether to upgrade from an emission rate monitoring system to a mass monitoring system or whether it is better to replace the system and start over. Newer analyzers do not confuse NO with total NOx . Keep in mind that the value of accuracy goes up substantially with the trading of NOx at $3,000/ton.

It appears that continuous emission monitors for mercury will be able to duplicate the wet chemistry methods within 20%. Don’t be surprised if within a few years both continuous mercury and mass particulate monitors are required for each power plant stack. Tests of mass particulate monitors on incinerators have been positive. A number of power plants in Europe are already using mass particulate monitors of the tape sampler type.

One of the problems in quantifying PM2.5 emissions is going to be semantics. How is a large agglomerate of small particles which is emitted when rapping the precipitator classified? If it quickly disintegrates when it loses its electrical charge, isn’t it all small particles?

How important advances in IT instrumentation, controls, automation, monitoring and process optimization are changing the very nature of electric power generation. Jason Makansi advises that the individual information technology functions must be integrated into a cohesive system that communicates seamlessly with IT networks external to the plant. The ultimate goal is economic optimization.

IT changes and is integrated into the personnel organization and cultures-minimizing people, making work safer, focusing on results, moving towards predictive maintenance, pushing the envelope on operations and performance, breaking down barriers between departments (i.e. maintenance and operations). It will create “virtual plant staffs, crews and teams” responsible for multiple plants and will facilitate third-party service contracts. A 1400 MW coal-fired plant in Australia is supervised by two people on site during the second and third shifts. This will become commonplace in the future.

The replacement of precipitator internals with bags at the State Line plant is a significant event. While other bidders were following the specs with bids on precipitator internals, Wheelabrator bid a conversion to a baghouse. The flexibility to burn a greater variety of fuels led Southern to select the baghouse conversion. This decision was followed by the Sheldon station award to ABB to replace the existing precipitators with fabric filters.

The problem is that your present opacity monitor doesn’t tell you how much particulate is emitted during excursions. So it is going to be difficult to verify total mass emissions. Unfortunately your Title V permit probably limits you to a specific tons per year of particulate. But there are some simple steps to take to protect yourself. One is to do some stack testing during upset or start up and shut down conditions. If the emissions are only slightly higher than normal then you have some supporting evidence.


While coal gasification is still a questionable option from a cost standpoint, the gasification of waste can be quite attractive. In parts of Europe power plants are forced to burn 10% biomass in each coal-fired boiler. Gasifying waste and using it as a reburn fuel provides both the economic benefits plus the reduction of NOx. But just simple fuel blending is in vogue. Connectiv is fueling one plant with chicken manure. Illinois Power will burn all the plastic pellets it can find.

The answer is that there are many situations that favor cofiring. In the ozone season it is a way to reduce NOx. During low load conditions the use of gas may be more economic than running the pulverizers and burning the lower cost coal. Most importantly you have a back up if your air pollution control or coal handling equipment fails at a time of high demand. Mississippi Power found that they could burn a combination of petroleum coke and natural gas more inexpensively than coal.

There is probably more new and useful technology being developed to improve the complete combined cycle system than there is in the turbines themselves. This is a pretty expansive claim since the new series of turbines has substantially higher output and efficiency. But a substantial part of the output and cost is found in the other components. New ways to cool and purify the intake air can substantially improve output and lower life cycle costs. As they say the devil is in the details. The disc centrifuge manufacturers have MADE improvements in fuel purification. The cooling tower people have more efficient packings.

There is even a better access door you should consider rather than let each component supplier furnish a hard-to-open home grown design.

For more information on the Power Plant Knowledge System click here: http://www.mcilvainecompany.com/PPKS.htm

To sign up for your free subscription to the Power Plant Questions of the Month just click on the reply button on your browser and reply to this e-mail with a “yes” typed in the response.

McIlvaine Company
2970 Maria Avenue
Northbrook, IL 60062
Ph: 847 272-0010
Fax: 847 272-9673

The RAMGEN Engine

The Ramgen engine is based on the ramjet, the earliest form of jet engine and one still used on missiles. A ram jet gets its thrust from burning fuel in air compressed by its forward motion, then expelling the exhaust to create a forward force.

In the Ramgen engine, two ramjet thrust modules are mounted opposite each other at the perimeter of a 6 foot diameter rotor, in a kind of pinwheel configuration. The rim speed exceeds Mach 2.5. The engine’s axle then drives a generator through a gearbox.

Ramgen Power Systems, Inc. (WA) has just begun full testing of a full scale prototype, following ten years of work by its inventor, and the infusion 2 years ago of over $6 million from private investors. On February 2, 1999, the engine was the successfully ignited for the first time. It is currently generating compression at or above projected values; it is starting reliably and is creating combustion and power as anticipated; it is maintaining combustion after ignition; and the air film and other cooling systems are functioning effectively at current fuel loads.

The magnitude of the centrifugal forces generated at these speeds requires advanced, high-performance materials, which have only recently become commercially available (i.e. declassified), as have the computer modeling and machining techniques to manufacture the rotor to required tolerances. While sophisticated in design and modeling, the Ramgen has only a single moving part, the rotor and axle. It is designed to be maintained and work reliably in developing countries and isolated areas.

The Ramgen engine is a Brayton cycle engine that uses compressible gas dynamic phenomena and replaces the mechanical compression and expansion systems of conventional combustion engines with oblique shock wave and supersonic processes. In the Ramgen engine, the fuel and air mixture is compressed as it enters the thrust module, thereby removing the need to mechanically compress either the fuel or the combustion air. The engine’s burner operates on lean premix combustion to minimize NOx formation.
US Patent No 5709076 was awarded on Jan 20, 1999, and others are pending.

The performance of the Ramgen engine results from its efficient compression and expansion of the air/fuel mix within the thrust modules. The Ramgen engine’s inherently simpler design makes it less expensive to construct, operate and maintain than competing systems for electric power generation. The company anticipates that Ramgen will have:

– $400-450/KW capital cost (excluding site/development costs)
– 40-50% simple cycle efficiency
– around 2% efficiency loss down to 20% part-load
– very low emissions (NOx below 5 ppm)
– ability to operate on a wide range of fuels
(including oilfield and platform flare gases,
or caustic gases as low as 4% fuel by volume)
– small footprint (8-10 MW engine fits on a standard truck trailer)

With cooling by water-jacket and supercooled air, parts experience temperatures around 300 deg F. The exhaust is at 1230 deg.F, enabling combined cycle or cogen applications.

The prototype currently operating at a test facility in Tacoma, WA, can be configured to produce up to 15 MW. The company believes that the Ramgen engine can be scaled to produce electrical output ranging from 1 to 40 MW. The first commercial units (in the 8-15 MW range) could be available by early 2001. The company is in the process of finalizing additional financing.

Doug Jewett, President and CEO djewett@ramgen.com
Glenn Smith, VP Sales & Marketing gsmith@ramgen.com
RAMGEN Power Systems, Bellevue, WA 425-828-4919
Company website: http://www.ramgen.com

CERTS – New DOE Prog in Elec. Reliability

The Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions (CERTS) has been tasked by DOE to undertake a major new $2.5 million program in electric power system reliability research and technology development. (Congress re-established a budget for Transmission Reliability research in FY 1999, in DOE’s newly renamed “Office of Power Technologies” (OPT), formerly called the Office of Utility Technologies, under Deputy Assistant Secretary, Dan Adamson.)

The members of CERTS include:
Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL)
Edison Technology Solutions (ETS)
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL)
Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC)
Sandia National Laboratories (SNL).
The program is an important element in DOE_s response to the recommendations and findings of the SEAB Task Force on Electric System Reliability final report. (See UFTO Note, Oct 8, 1998, or go to: http://www.hr.doe.gov/seab.)

PSERC is a group of universities that have formed a cross-disciplinary team dedicated to solving the challenges arising from power system restructuring. It’s worth a visit to their website at: http://www.pserc.wisc.edu.

CERTS organizers are committed to a high degree of involvement by stakeholders. In particular, there will be a Technical Advisory Committee (see below), and numerous opportunities to participate in the research itself. A website is in preparation to provide public access to program details and developments.


Joe Eto, LBNL, Program Office Manager for the Consortium
jheto@lbl.gov, 510-486-7284

Phil Overholt, DOE/OPT, T&D Reliability Program Manager
philip.overholt@ee.doe.gov, 202-586-8110

Introduction and Overview–(excerpted from CERTS proposal)

The U.S. electric power system is in transition from one that has been centrally planned and controlled to one that will be increasingly dependent on competitive market forces to determine its operation and expansion. Unique features of electric power, including the need to match supply and demand in real-time, the interconnected networks over which power flows, and the rapid propagation of disturbances throughout the grid pose unique challenges that are likely to be exacerbated in the future. As the physical events of 1996 and the market events of 1998 demonstrate, the reliability of the grid and the integrity of the markets it supports are integral to the economic well-being of the nation.

The Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions (CERTS) was formed to develop and commercialize new methods, tools, and technologies to protect and enhance the reliability of the U.S. electric power system under the emerging competitive electricity market structure.

CERTS organizes its activities under four major areas: (1) Reliability Technology Issues and Needs Assessment; (2) Real Time System Control; (3) Integration of Distributed Technologies; and (4) Reliability and Markets. The first area encompasses strategic planning; the remaining three areas involve research and technology development. (See individual projects described below).

CERTS Organization

LBNL operates a Program Office for CERTS with day-to-day responsibilities for managing CERTS projects and activities acting under direction from the Management Steering Committee.

ETS operates a Commercialization Office for CERTS with responsibilities for preparing commercialization plans and, when appropriate, implementing commercialization activities for CERTS projects and activities.

CERTS is also working with DOE to create a Technical Advisory Committee, consisting of 10+ industry stakeholders and experts to review the activities of the consortium and provide guidance on research direction.

FY 99 activities for DOE include work in five areas

1. Grid of the Future

The first year of a two year planning study to identify emerging gaps in reliability technology R&D. In the first year, CERTS will lay the groundwork for the development of a federal R&D roadmap by preparing six white papers, which will be the basis for industry-wide stakeholder workshops on: (1) alternative scenarios for the future of the electric power system, including a detailed articulation of the technological assumptions underlying each of these futures; (2) assessment of the technology and control R&D needs for widespread integration of distributed resources; (3) recent reliability issues review, including in-depth analysis of technological and institutional aspects of recent reliability events (e.g., summer 1996 WSCC events; winter 1997 northeast ice storms; winter 1998 San Francisco outage, etc.); (4) review and assessment of the current structure of U.S. bulk power markets and provision of reliability services (including 1998 price spikes in mid-west and west, and absence of meaningful opportunities for demand response); (5) assessment of the technology and control R&D needs for real time system control; (6) assessment of the treatment of uncertainty in planning and operational models.
2. Distributed Technologies Test Bed

The first year of a major multi-year effort to design and ultimately, with industry and other stakeholder partners from industry, operate an in-field distributed technologies test bed. The objective of this work is to develop and demonstrate the technologies and control strategies needed to support widespread integration of distributed resources into the grid.

During the first year, CERTS will: (1) specify the information needed to conduct system simulation studies of distributed technologies, assemble available information, and develop a plan for additional laboratory bench tests to gather missing information; (2) conduct simulation studies of the different scenarios of distributed technology penetration using available data and models to evaluate distribution system reliability impacts and identify micro-grid control issues; and (3) develop a multi-year demonstration plan for a distributed technologies test bed.

3. Reliability Market Monitoring, Design, and Analysis

The first year of a multi-year effort to improve the design and operation of markets for the provision of reliability services in a restructured electricity industry. An integrated set of data development, simulation, and design activities will provide both immediate and longer-term benefits to emerging competitive markets.

During the first year, CERTS will: (1) collect data on ancillary services market compliance for the CA ISO and evaluate alternative user interfaces for using these data; (2) use these and other data to examine the performance of the market and, where warranted, suggest directions for fundamental changes in the design of these markets; (3) use experimental economic methods and other methods to simulate the performance of both current and proposed market designs; and (4) analyze customer-side technical requirements for provision of reliability services

4. Smart VAR Management System

Develop and demonstrate a software tool that will allow system operators to measure, communicate, and process real-time data to perform a VAR analysis of the WSCC grid and provide system operators with voltage profiles and reactive reserve margins at key substations. Had this tool been available, the 1996 outages on the Western grid could have been prevented.

During the first year, CERTS will develop, prototype, and field-test hardware and software that can be integrated with current energy management systems to provide operators with necessary information, contingency simulation, performance tracking, and report generation on voltage and reactive reserve margins.

5. Distributed Control

The first year of a multi-year effort to develop and demonstrate the appropriate role for distributed controls in management of the operations of regional power systems. During the first year, CERTS will initiate a demonstration of the ability and comparative performance of autonomous reasoning agents to maintain power system reliability compared to conventional centralized control methods.