T&D R&D Gaining Attention

Here are some high-level pointers to an array of resources related to ongoing developments in T&D research, sponsored by DOE, NSF and the CEC (Calif Energy Commission), which demonstrate a new level of attention to grid reliability and security.

Let me know if I can be helpful digging deeper into any of these areas.


DOE – Office of Electricity Transmission and Distribution

The Dept. of Energy will announce, perhaps as early as next week, the creation of a new office for T&D reporting directly to the Secretary, as recommended in the National Transmission Grid Study* done last year. The Office of Electricity Transmission and Distribution will start with a budget of $85 million, however all but $8 or 9 million is already committed to earmarks ($27 M) and high temperature superconductors ($40 M). The office will be headed by Jimmy Glotfelty, an assistant to Abrahams. The staff currently in the Transmission Reliability Program in EERE will move over to the new office.

Meanwhile next week, a new Center will be dedicated at Oak Ridge:

The dedication of the National Transmission Technology Research Center (NTTRC) and the Powerline Conductor Accelerated Facility (PCAT), the first working facility of four planned for the Center, will be held March 25. The Center, sponsored by ORNL, DOE, and TVA, will test and evaluate advanced technologies, including conductors, sensors and controls, and power electronics, under a wide range of electrical conditions without jeopardizing normal operations. The first component of the NTTRC, the PCAT facility, is initiating its first test protocol with 3M’s advanced Aluminum Conductor Composite Reinforced conductor.
— Overview of NTTRC:

The existing Transmission Reliability Program was reestablished by Congress in 1999 to conduct research on the reliability of the Nation’s electricity infrastructure during the transition to competitive markets under restructuring.
Go to “Documents and Resources” for recent studies and materials.

*(May 2002


Calif Energy Commission

The CEC Public Interest Energy Research program (PIER) has a very active effort underway in Transmission Research. They recently released a 140 page “Electricity Transmission Research and Development Assessment and Gap Analysis – Draft Consultant Report” — now available online along with other materials and presentations:

This report is one of two reports which were discussed at a public workshop held March 12, 2003 at the CEC.


National Science Foundation
Directorate for Engineering, Elec. And Communications Systems

1. Workshop on Modernizing the Electric Power Grid, Nov 02

Starting on slide 14 of James Momoh’s presentation there is a good overview of the EPNES initiative (next item)

2. NSF/ONR Partnership in Electric Power Networks Efficiency and Security (EPNES)

This solicitation seeks to obtain major advances in the integration of new concepts in control, modeling, component technology, social and economics theories for electrical power networks’ efficiency and security. It also encourages development of new interdisciplinary research-based curriculum… Proposals were due Feb 3.

3. The Power Systems Engineering Research Center (PSERC)
PSERC is an NSF Industry/University Cooperative Research Center, involving a consortium of13 universities working with government and industry. The website has a huge array of reports and publications.

For the NSF’s “fact sheet”, see:

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:

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:

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, 510-486-7284

Phil Overholt, DOE/OPT, T&D Reliability Program Manager, 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.