miércoles, abril 11, 2012

First Draft: Let’s Emulate Uno Lamm’s Accomplishments Through Imagination and Truth

Summary: After introducing Uno Lamm as a role model on imagination and truth for Advancing Technology for Humanity, there are parallel sections on: 1) After two old stories, a third has been emerging; 2) The Contexts; 3) The Battles; 4) The Status Quo Should Respond to Criticism on Current Smart Grid Developments; 5) The status quo is dead. Long live the status quo. This is supported by 23 references.

First Draft: Let’s Emulate Uno Lamm’s Accomplishments Through Imagination and Truth

José Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio, Ph.D.
Systemic Consultant: Electricity
IEEE Life Senior Member
April 11, 2012.

I understand that we need to consider as very important the Power Engineering Society “Uno Lamm High Voltage Direct Current Award,” which promotes the concept “Engineering – Accomplishment Through Imagination and Truth.” There is no doubt that the innovation space created by Dr. Lamm’s example has enabled great accomplishments for IEEE members.

A very attractive insight on an issue of the IEEE Power Engineering Review, published more than 30 years ago [1], started to change my life for the better. Showing “A New PES Award” in the issue’s cover, you can also find in it the above engineering concept. Inside that issue is the story “Renaissance Man: Uno Lamm, ASEA’s ‘Retired’ Electrotechnical Director, Leads a Remarkably Active and Inquisitive Life.”

The insight in that story that really altered my life was his example “… there’s the opportunity to work on ideas quite outside one’s owned special field of expertise. I can then enjoy the enthusiasm built on partial ignorance which, as you know, is greater and fuller than any other enthusiasm.”

Since then, in Dr. Lamm I found a role model, my hero [2, 3]. I know that’s what I been enjoying since then as I internalized that quote. In my experience, many of the initial partial ignorance create open loops that get closed later on as they are triggered via our reticular activating system. As I have been trying to do, I suggest we need other IEEE members to select IEEE medal recipients, like Dr. Lamm, as their hero in order to increase the innovation space for still other IEEE members in the quest for Advancing Technology for Humanity.

Surprisingly, I didn’t grasp it until a few days ago, after more than 30 years ago, which he was able to say that because he was already retired. I guess that story was replaced in my subconscious by the careers profile story “Uno Lamm: Inventor and Activist [4],” by Katherine Wollard, which I just found out had only the first part of that quote.

After two old stories, a third has been emerging

With those two stories we have meaningful instances for IEEE Members to emulate in Advancing Technology for Humanity, which necessarily involves, like I found out, acting ethically in order to face a strong status quo that is blocking the way of Advancing Technology for Humanity. Wollard says that “[h]is last and most ambitious project was the Pacific HVDC Intertie, bringing electricity from Bonneville, Ore. to Long Angeles, Calif.”

As many people know, my most ambitious project is not a physical one like that of HVDC technology. It has become a socio-technical system architecting one, which I believe fits nicely to enable Advancing (Electric Retail Markets) Technology for (Customers) Humanity [5, 6]. It is a paradigm shift that opens a big innovation space for IEEE members to make “accomplishment through imagination and truth” on the retail side of the global power industry. Although what has emerged through me is still being named, for practical reasons, as the Electricity Without Price Control Architecture Framework (EWPC-AF) [7], I understand that it is better coined as the Value Added Electricity Architecture Framework (VAE-AF) [8].

The Contexts

Wollard writes about the Pacific Intertie project that Lamm lead introducing High Voltage Direct Current (HVDC). She says that “[t]he idea of the Intertie had been around since the public-work project days of the 1930s, when it was first proposed the Pacific Northwest’s huge surpluses of hydroelectricity be channeled down to the burgeoning cities of southern California. But the project run into heavy opposition and was eventually scrapped. In 1961, spurred by a steady rise for electricity in California, President John F. Kennedy reopened the battle. Kennedy wanted a big public project, using the new HVDC technology developed in Sweden. Private utilities wanted to own the Intertie and use it for ac transmission.”

The idea of restructuring the global power industry started in the 1980s. As with many huge projects, their high level system architecture is emergent. IEEE members lost their leadership influence, as economists, financiers, and politicians took over the industry. By misunderstanding the systemic implications of interconnected power, those leaders introduced a huge architecting flaw at the industry level [9, 10, 11], in which the new regulatory environment damaged the new global deregulation system that had an unstable architecture.

For example, the highly visible wicked or systemic crisis in the California jurisdiction at the beginning of the century sent a very bad and strong signal that not only stopped progress, but also helped to introduce counter reforms, at many other regulatory jurisdictions all over the world [5]. After that debacle, restructuring also "run into heavy opposition." As the urgency is shown in this document, high level leadership is sorely needed [12, 13, 14].

One essential element that I believe will help in developing an unprecedented system of hierarchical systemic architectures is the proposal of an IEEE Systemic Code of Ethics that resulted from the discussion “Does the IEEE Code of Ethics Fully Supports Advancing Technology For Humanity?” That proposal is running in The Official IEEE Group and the IEEE Senior Members Group, which are private Linkedin groups; and the IEEE Smart Grid Group [15], the SSIT Group [16] and the IEEE Spectrum Group [17], which are public Linkedin groups.

The Battles

According to Wollard, in 1962, “Lamm arranged a licensing agreement that gave the General Electric Co. access to ASEA’s HVDC technology. Once the two companies were allies, Lamm said, they pull out all the stops in influencing opinion on the Intertie. Lamm took on his opponent with equanimity, good humor, and an unassailable marshalling of facts.”

The “Renaissance Man” story adds that “As befits a widely educated man who is observant, articulate and outspoken on a broad range of issues, Dr. Lamm has not failed to attract his own share of criticism. That this has not visibly irritated him over the years is probably due to the fact that he is concerned with issues, not personalities. His targets are imprecise thinking, questionable logic an uncritical acceptance of political propaganda. In the course of his running battle to promote orderly processes of thinking in a frequently disordered world, he has not hesitated to cross swords (or at least exchange typewriter fusillades) with a prime minister, a Nobel laureate, a best-selling critic of capitalism and a host of other who, he often feels, are debasing modern communications.”

It seems that taking well in consideration the wide differences in accomplishments, I guess I have been living a remarkably similar life, while fighting the ongoing war of the EAV-AF. In the recent battle active in three of the five IEEE Groups of Linkedin fronts, I am trying hard to have a good ally, like, for example, the President and CEO of the IEEE, Gordon W. Day, who has proposed to make A Flatter World [18] by using the IEEE motto “Advancing Technology for Humanity.” In the discussion of the proposal of an IEEE Systemic Code of Ethics, so far, only the public IEEE SSIT Group is a front that has been a friendly environment to the idea, while it seems that The Official IEEE Group and the IEEE Smart Grid Group seem to have been unfriendly to it.

After each new round of intense discussion was faced with “an unassailable marshalling of facts,” every time there seems to be growing support for that IEEE Systemic Code of Ethics, discussions are either eliminated or shifted to new discussion on Linkedin’s email notification system on the unfriendly groups. For example, on March 27, as the idea was picking up, a discussion was deleted in the IEEE Smart Grid Group and shifted from a Still Active Discussions to a New Discussion in The Official IEEE Group that reduced visibility. From there on, any time a Still Active Discussions on the Code of Ethics in The Official IEEE Group was systematically shifted to New Discussions. On the IEEE Smart Grid Group some were deleted, while the others were shifted until April 5. Today, April 11, however, there’s some hope as the situation was reversed with the Code of Ethics discussion showing as a Still Active Discussions in The Official IEEE Group, but shifted to New Discussion on the IEEE Smart Grid Group.

To act ethically, I believe that IEEE members need for the status quo to become visible in order to respond all the criticism accumulated (see next section). I have the most respectful attitude with all of Linkedin’s Group Managers, because only with good relationship with them we will go forward. However, being “concerned with issues, not personalities,” as Dr. Lamm was, it is also important to state, that the current system so pressures managers to act in unintended ways, which seem to be ethical at the moment, but only in non-systemic ways.

In what seem to be another unfriendly act to the proposed IEEE Systemic Code of Ethics and the VAE-AF, for example, one discussion [19] was identified two times by a manager of the IEEE Smart Grid Group as one that didn’t belong to their group. In response, a manager of the IEEE SSIT Group wrote” In one of the other forums you mentioned the moderator did decide that anything out of the mainstream of the topic didn't belong. And yes, from the impact of technology point of view, that narrow scoping could be a problem.” In contrast to the Code of Ethics discussion, this one was included as a Still Active Discussions today.

The Status Quo Should Respond to Criticism on Current Smart Grid Developments

Wollard recalls that “[m]eanwhile, California’s private companies have began claiming that HVDC was impractical for the Intertie, and hired a consulting firm to ferret out flaws in the ASEA plan. The showdown came at the Winter General Meeting in New York in early 1963. The consultants read their report, and Lamm spoke in rebuttal, pointing out that the consultant had not even visited existing HVDC installations. She again adds “’to what is common practice in meetings like this’ Lamm says ‘the authors refuse to stand up to answer the criticism, even when the chairman ask them directly.’ The audience of engineers shifted to Lamm’s position.” Is there any doubt on whether that audience acted ethically?

Ever since 2005, when I first wrote “An Alternative Business Case to Demand Response [20],” as can be seen in most of the references, I have uncovered several flaws in the industry architecture but have not been given yet a fair trial by the status quo on what has emerged since then as the EAV-AF. It is clear that the status quo continues to “refuse to stand up to answer the criticism” all this time.

In particular in March 2011, for example, while playing on the highly advertized IEEE Spectrum 2025 Smart Grid Game, the obsolete, fragmented, and socially exclusive, Investor Owned Utilities Architecture Framework and its highly complex incremental extensions status quo scenario was defeated by the emergent, inclusive, holistic, simple, and minimalist, EWPC-AF scenario. As that result was not what the status quo expected, I understand they ordered to shut down the web site so that the game’s winner could not exercise valuable bragging rights [21] to tell humanity of the need for change in the industry architecture.

The status quo is dead. Long live the status quo.

Wollard’s story continues with “Lamm’s admiration with for the United States and his people crops up frequently in his conversations, and was strengthened by his work on the Intertie. He relates how several power company executives – who have been those most opposed to the project - visited Sweden with their wives once the issue was decided.” As a result of the visit, Lamm recalled “[a]mong Americans, when the heat of combat is over, and a decision has been reached, all the bitterness disappears, and people work hard to bring the final decision to fruition in the best possible way.” I have also been expecting that kind of mutual behavior [22].

Showing how the HVDC project was advancing HVDC for LA, Wollard’s story says that: “It was estimated that the people of Los Angeles saved $600,000 a day when Columbia River power began flowing south. Lamm had seen a similar result on Gotland Island, when, after the installation of the HVDC link, rates were halved. ‘For us, the engineers’ he says ‘this information is a source of real joy.” In contrast, Americans are paying an extra half dollar on average on top of the utility bill [23]

Wollard adds once again that “… proud of the safe records of ASEA built [nuclear] reactors, Lamm said he raised strenuous criticism of one government designed plant, which ASEA found ‘inherently unsafe.’ Eventually, construction was halted. His action against the plant, and similar instances throughout his professional life, illustrate what Martensson calls Lamm’s ‘basic honesty – it’s part of his character: he is honest and he’s proud of it.”


[1] IEEE Power Engineering Review, October 1981, Volume PER-1, Number 10.
[2] The Sixth Disruptive Technology, September 30, 2007, EWPC Blog.
[3] Uno Lamm is a Leader Role Model, October 29, 2007, EWPC Blog.
[4] “Uno Lamm: Inventor and Activist,” by Katherine Wollard, published in the IEEE Spectrum of March 1988.
[5] The BIG California LIE, September 18, 2007.
[6] The Electric Power Industry is Missing a Vibrant Retail Market, December 22, 2009, EWPC Blog.
[7] The Electricity Without Price Control Architecture Framework (EWPC-AF), November 30, 2009, EWPC Blog.
[8] Desconectemos el Presupuesto del Sector Eléctrico, May 20, 2011, Acento.com
[9] Why the Smart Grid World Forum Requires Learning About T&D Transportation Ultraquality, September 29, 2010, EWPC Blog.
[10] Three Smart Grid Predictions for Initiating the Global Power Industry Transformation, July 21, 2010.
[11] A Predictable Environment for VCs Smart Grid Investments, May 6, 2011. EWPC Blog
[12] Leadership Answers What to do First, April 16, 2008, EWPC Blog.
[13] States that Implement a Heterogeneous Grid are Poised to be the Winners, December 13, 2009, EWPC Blog
[14] Which Country Will Take the Leadership of a Global Vision for Advancing Grids for Customers?, September 9, 2010, EWPC Blog.
[15] Does the IEEE Code of Ethics Fully Supports Advancing Technology For Humanity?, IEEE Smart Grid Group of Linkedin.
[16] Does the IEEE Code of Ethics Fully Supports Advancing Technology For Humanity?, IEEE SSIT Group of Linkedin.
[17] Does the IEEE Code of Ethics Fully Supports Advancing Technology For Humanity?, IEEE Spectrum Group of Linkedin.
[18] GORDON DAY, A Flatter World: It’s time to address the challenges of universal access to technology, 5 March 2012, President’s Column, the IEEE news source - the institute.
[19] A Guess About Preventing World Economy Collapse by 2030, IEEE Smart Grid Group of Linkedin.
[20] An Alternative Business Case for Demand Response, November 3, 2005, EnergyPulse.net
[21] How to Cross the Thin Line from Arrogance to Leadership, June 19, 2010, GMH Blog.
[22] Let EWPC Come to Fruition, November 7, 2007, GMH Blog.
[23] Just as Pogo, IOUs Found the Enemy, January 26, 2009, GMH Blog.