jueves, marzo 04, 2010

Another Institutional Memory Warning: Do today's power grids have little centralized control?

Smart Grid Command & Control: The Death of the Giant Brain in the Sky, an article written by Jesse Berst on SmartGridNews.com, is a very timely article that reflects the ongoing mental model behind the Smart Grid ongoing "groupthink" strategy. So far I have posted two comments that read as follows:

Do today's power grids have little centralized control?

This post is about the perceptions of power grids command and control. Please consider the following:

In the article "Cascading failures in power grids," published in the Sep/Oct 2009 issue of IEEE Potentials, Paul Hines, et al, write that:

"Unlike with an airplane, a car, or even a municipal water system, no single organization supervises a large power grid. Instead power grids are complex systems, from which we get relatively reliable service with very little centralized control."

José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D. - 03/03/2010 - 19:48

Another Institutional Memory Warning

To warn the emerging community, I will repeat once again the following: the leaders of deregulation did not consider the two warnings given by Fred C. Schweppe (and his colleagues) in his book Spot Pricing of Electricity:

"The deregulation concept of this chapter is based on a supply and demand marketplace. Most of the other deregulation literature is oriented only to the supply side i.e., to deregulating generation without altering the way users buy electricity. We believe that deregulation which considerers only the supply side of the supply-demand equation is very dangerous and could have very negative results… A second major difference between this chapter and most of the rest of the deregulation literature lies in our concern that the economics and physical security of power systems not be destroyed or compromised."

Concentrating on the first warning, Jack [Ellis] has pointed out some key characteristic of an effective architecture framework for the power industry system. These are two examples of my interpretation of Jack post: instead of one shot homogeneous smart grid architecture that forces smart meters on customers, a transition heterogeneous architecture is needed to support customer choice; instead of retail prices that are based on wholesale prices, retail and wholesale prices mutually reinforce each other. In summary, those two key characteristics are in synchronicity with the emergent holistic Electricity Without Price Controls Architecture Framework (EWPC-AF), that is described in the link.

In addition, the EWPC-AF considers the second warning in order not to destroy or compromise the economics and physical security of the power systems. That way it does not bypass the non trivial institutional memory of the power industry as a complex adaptive socio-technical system. Instead of command and control, the power industry has practiced, for example, for quite some, the two complex adaptive processes of short run system security and long run system adequacy.

I assert that the main deregulation mistake was that lawyers and economists did not take into account those non trivial elements of the institutional memory of the power industry. I just hope that this time the information and communication community do not repeat that same mistake, which is bound to happen with the ongoing Smart Grid strategy.

José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D. - 03/04/2010 - 07:10