Analysis out of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center

Michael Giberson

I’m swamped with work and have a lot of reading stacked up in the queue, so I haven’t had a chance to check out all of the good stuff that has been coming out of the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center lately.

Here are a couple of recent working papers:

Seth Blumsack, Lester B. Lave, and Jay Apt, “Electricity Prices and Costs Under Regulation and Restructuring.” The report makes another run at computing the effects of restructuring on retail prices. According to the abstract, they “conclude that restructuring has been beneficial to companies that restructured, but the evidence is far less clear concerning benefits to consumers.”

Sompop Pattanariyankool and Lester B. Lave, “Optimizing Transmission from Distant Wind Farms.” The paper addresses the question of proper sizing of transmission lines to link power consumers to distant wind farms. The introduction said, “Using current estimates of the cost of a wind turbine and the cost of a transmission line, we estimate that the cost of delivered power from a wind farm with about 33% capacity that is locate 1,000 miles from the customer will be about $150/MWh with almost 2/3 of the cost due to transmission. This cost does not include measures to solve the moment to moment variability of wind turbine output or the intermittency of output.”

Paul Hines, Jay Apt and Sarosh Talukdar, “Trends in the History of Large Blackouts in the United States.” A scan of the article suggests it provides a fairly thorough examination of blackout data. Not surprisingly, blackouts are more frequent during summers (high loads, thunderstorms, and late summer hurricanes) and winter (rain, snow and ice storms). Somewhat surprising to me, the duration of a blackout is nearly uncorrelated with the blackout size. These findings and many others are elaborated in the paper.

And while I’m mentioning the Carnegie Mellon Electricity Industry Center I should also note that they are hosting the Fourth Annual Carnegie Mellon Conference on the Electricity Industry, today and tomorrow. If you aren’t already there (and I’m not, see that aforementioned work swamp), it is probably too late to book a flight to Pittsburgh, but get on their mailing list for next year.