Like a River
Charles Bayless recently retired as President and Provost of the West Virginia University Institute of Technology. Previously he was Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Illinova Corporation and its wholly owned subsidiary, Illinois Power Company. Prior to joining Illinova Corporation, he was Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer of Tucson Electric Power Company.
"Imagine that! It never occurred to me to think of SPACE as the thing that was moving!" — Montgomery Scott, Star Trek (2009)
By viewing Space-Time in a different manner Scotty suddenly understood transwarp beaming. Looking at the grid differently will allow us to understand the future of our industry.
We must stop viewing the grid as a means of transporting electricity from point "A" to point "B" and begin viewing the grid as the system which will tie together millions of separate customers with renewables, storage, DSM and backup generation facilities, enabling them to work together to achieve the highest levels of renewable generation and optimize their operation to achieve the lowest possible cost.
One of the lessons learned in the early days of our industry was that the grid allowed utilities to keep far lower levels of reserves. If there were ten small city utilities, each with a twenty-five-megawatt plant, each would need a twenty-five-megawatt backup plant to achieve higher reliability.
Even then there would be outages while the reserve plant was brought online. By interconnecting these utilities, the total required reserves would decrease from ten plants to two or three. Today, because of the support provided by the grid, we can run with approximately ten percent reserves.