Evolutionary directions for electric system architecture.
Merwin Brown is electric grid research program director at the California Institute for Energy and Environment (CIEE), and Lloyd Cibulka and Alexandra von Meier are research coordinators at CIEE. This article was adapted from an oral presentation at the IEEE PES Transmission & Distribution Conference and Exposition, April 2010, and at UC Berkeley’s i4Energy Seminar, February 2011.</bio>
Electric transmission and distribution (T&D) systems today are going through substantial evolution. That evolution might proceed along any of several possible paths, each of which would affect the way utility companies operate in the United States.
To better understand how T&D systems are evolving, scenario analysis provides a method of disciplined speculation to help organize and articulate our thinking. The object isn’t to evaluate the relative probability or merit of different future outcomes, but rather to consider how specific factors might influence and shape these outcomes in a way that’s consistent with what we know today. Starting with explicit premises about cause-effect relationships, the exercise follows the logical implications of changes in specific variables in order to construct a set of distinct futures that are each plausible under different sets of conditions (see Figure 1).