This is another follow up to the EWPC Blog post What Would Steve Jobs Do About Energy Innovation? In the process to respond one of the comments under a discussion about said post, on the SmartGrids – Energy & Water Group of Linkedin, I just got the insight that I have been trying to connect the dots of The Electricity Without Price Controls Architecture Framework (EWPC-AF), which can place Steve’s quote as a high level system’s heuristics for energy innovation to emerge.
"[Y]ou can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something -- your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."
-- Stanford University commencement address, June 2005.
This time I have the current Smart Grid process as a counter example, to tell their proponents why the dots didn’t connect in two key events. I first look backwards to the Energy Policy Act of 1992, by explaining the first flaw with the strongly recommended 2008 EWPC Article Leadership Answers What to do First, whose summary says:
The answer to the question of what to do first is for the global power industry to get out of the wrong jungle to produce a EWPC based EPAct as soon as possible. That is the kind of leadership needed to face the inevitable fundamental changes required to significantly reduce today’s legislative and regulatory uncertainty.”For those very busy, please at least consider the one paragraph that shows why the dots don’t connect:
The most important reason why the existing paradigm – the system - is failing is because of architecture and design flaws. Eberhardt Rechtin and Mark W. Maier, in their book “The Art of System Architecting,” have a descriptive heuristics that explains what happens: “In architecting a new [the paradigm in this case program all the serious mistakes are made in the first day.” Leaving out utilities native loads, Open Transmission Access of EPAct 92 was such a serious mistake, which initiated the incremental path of the California crisis, the 2003 blackout, etc., that have taken us to today’s mess of costly and complex capacity markets, NERC mandatory requirements, etc.
In order to see why the dots semantics are not connecting either on the Smart Grid, please take a look at the article A Predictable Environment for VCs Smart Grid Investments:
The problem with the semantics is due to the Integrated Energy and Communication Systems Architecture (IECSA) project, circa 2003, where under the title “THE NEED FOR AN INDUSTRY ARCHITECTURE,” on page 2-1 of the final release of IECSA Volume I, it is written that “There is a two-part answer to the question, “Why it is necessary to develop an industry architecture?’ First, it must be understood that the challenge facing utility executives is keeping the lights on while also enhancing the value of services to consumer… The second, and more powerful argument, is that the only way to address the challenge utility executives face is to go back to basics, understand why the current system doesn’t perform as needed, and then to design interoperability into the system from the ground up.” It is very clear that VCs investors were not part of the Smart Grid definition, but to a challenge faced by utility executives.
In fact, it was defined that among the Areas beyond IECSA were “changes to the overall business and regulatory structure of the industry.” In other words, semantics were limited to a technological system to protect the status quo of the Investor Owned Utilities Architecture Framework (IOUs-AF). To read additional architecting evidence in support of the urgent need to restructure the electric power industry can be found in the article Should the Smart Grid be a Technological Project to Address a Challenge Faced by Utility Executives?
The heuristic that “... all the serious mistakes are made in the first day” has been known for quite some time with different wording, as it is based on what Plato said in the 4th Century Before Christ, which is also critical to connect the dots. He said that "The beginning is the most important part of the work.” For the Smart Grid the same mistake was repeated twice, last as explained above, and the first beginning with the a huge architecting mistake is in the US Energy Policy Act of 1992, as can be seen in the recent EWPC Blog post FERC's Order 1000 as a Potential Example of Over-Regulated America.
My suggestion is the result of applying The Art of Systems Architecting, by Rechtin and Maeir, to the socio-technical electric power system. Their approach is to concentrate the attention in heuristics for systems-level architecting. Plato’s quote is one of those heuristics that complement SJ quote nicely.