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Fortnightly Magazine - July 15 1996

total megawatts, quickly leading to further sequential disconnection of equipment for

protection. Such a scenario could provoke a full-blown blackout in the New England region. And, except in the case of a single-event contingency, it is not clear who bears responsibility for keeping power delivery uninterrupted.

What is clear, however, is that distributed decisionmaking by various profit-driven market players does not recognize the technical complexity of this scenario. Consequently, it cannot coordinate the systemwide corrective actions necessary to retain integrity of the interconnection under unexpected contingencies.

Beyond the level of coordination needed for real-time system operation, there exists a need for systematic, long-term nurturing of the transmission grid and various high technologies. Though generally viewed as external to the primary supply/demand market (em and, thus, as an unwelcome expense (em these technologies play a critical role in achieving dynamic efficiency (i.e., reducing customers' energy bills).

A strong future for the power industry requires dynamic efficiency and high-quality, reliable power under open access. The ongoing debate on deregulation must begin to assess long-term efficiency, and to evaluate potential grid enhancements and the efficient use of resources. In the competitive market, we want not only efficient, but also reliable, electric supply.

Tomorrow's generation may come from small-scale distributed generation built where needed. But the properties of such systems must be compared to more traditional systems in terms of robust reliability as well as of dynamic efficiency. t

Marija Ilic' is a senior research scientist in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her research focuses on control and network theory applications to the dynamics, control, and economics of large-scale power systems. She has also taught and researched such subjects at Cornell University and the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

The author thanks the U.S. Department of Energy for financial support of projects on the role of technology in a deregulated industry. She also acknowledges the unselfish input provided by Elizabeth Drake, associate director of the MIT Energy Laboratory, and Leonard Hyman, managing director of Fulcrum International, Ltd., plus assistance from two former graduate students, Jeffrey Chapman of Failure Analysis, Inc. and Assef Zobian of Putnam, Hayes and Bartlett, Inc.


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