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IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter - April 2014

Microgrids for Rural Electrification

A study of over a dozen microgrid projects inaugurated by seven developers in three countries sought to determine why some such projects get trapped in vicious cycles of poor maintenance, disappointed customers, insufficient revenue and dysfunctional community support, while others prosper. Seven key factors are identified: tariff design, tariff collection mechanisms, maintenance and contractor performance, theft management, demand growth, load limits and local training and institutionalization.

Stochastic Information Management in Microgrid Operations

Designed to supply electrical and heat loads in local areas based on distributed energy resources, microgrids can significantly reduce power transmission and distribution losses and improve the utilization of renewable energy. Given the randomness in renewable power generation, and the buffering effect of energy storage devices and various customer behavior patterns, stochastic information management—employment of stochastic modeling and optimization techniques for information processing and decision making—is critical for microgrid operations to ensure system efficiency, reliability and sound economics.

Distribution Automation and the Self-Healing Network

Disruptive power outages of the past few years have resulted in customer outcries for a power delivery system that is able to withstand major storms more effectively, and “self healing” is one possible solution. Self-healing is not a new concept, but previous system designs must be re-evaluated to ensure proper operation with a high penetration of distributed energy resources, which pose new challenges and offer new opportunities for improved performance during emergencies.

A Stakeholder Approach to Grid Modernization Policy

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities developed an inclusive approach to planning grid modernization that emphasizes desired outcomes rather than specific technological solutions. Within that framework, expected consumer benefits from certain upgrades such as AMI were found to be different in Massachusetts than in some other states, while innovations like dynamic pricing entailed some special complexities. The end result of the process has been to galvanize an engaged group of experts, interested parties, businesses and regulators that are poised to usher in a smarter grid.

About the Smart Grid Newsletter

A monthly publication, the IEEE Smart Grid Newsletter features practical and timely technical information and forward-looking commentary on smart grid developments and deployments around the world. Designed to foster greater understanding and collaboration between diverse stakeholders, the newsletter brings together experts, thought-leaders, and decision-makers to exchange information and discuss issues affecting the evolution of the smart grid.


Dan SchnitzerDan Schnitzer is a Ph.D. candidate at Carnegie Mellon University in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.
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Juan Pablo CarvalloJuan Pablo Carvallo researches how to help developing economies trace sustainable growth paths as part of his PhD studies in the Energy and Resources Group.
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Ranjit DeshmukhRanjit Deshmukh is a researcher with the International Energy Studies Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.
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Jay AptJay Apt is a professor at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business and in the Department of Engineering and Public Policy.
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Daniel KammenDaniel Kammen is the Class of 1935 Distinguished Professor of Energy at the University of California, Berkeley.
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Hao LiangHao Liang , a member of IEEE, is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo, Canada.
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Weihua ZhuangWeihua Zhuang , an IEEE fellow, has been with the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Waterloo, Canada.
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Robert UluskiRobert Uluski , an IEEE member, has over 35 years of electric utility experience, with a focus on planning and implementing distribution automation systems.
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Justin BrantJustin Brant is assistant director of the Electric Power Division at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.
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Ben DavisBen Davis is the director of the Electric Power Division at the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities.
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Jonathan RaabJonathan Raab is President of Raab Associates, Ltd., an energy and environmental consulting and dispute resolution firm located in Boston.
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