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Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Industries Electric Industry Activities Increasing Efficiency through Improved Software

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June 2014 Technical Conference

Commission staff convened a technical conference on June 23, 24, and 25, 2014 to discuss opportunities for increasing real-time and day-ahead market efficiency through improved software.

This conference brought together experts from diverse backgrounds and experiences, including electric system operators, software developers, government, research centers and academia for the purposes of stimulating discussion, sharing information, and identifying fruitful avenues for research concerning the technical aspects of improved software for increasing efficiency. This conference intended to build on the discussions initiated in the previous Commission staff technical conferences on increasing market and planning efficiency through improved software. As such, staff facilitated a discussion to explore research and steps needed to implement approaches to market modeling which appear to have significant promise for potential efficiency improvements in the following areas: stochastic modeling; optimal transmission switching; alternating current (AC) optimal power flow modeling; and use of active and dynamic transmission ratings.

In particular we solicited proposals for presentations on topics and questions such as the following:

  1. Stochastic modeling for unit commitment and operating reserves:
    • Given the difficulty in formulating and solving full-scale stochastic unit-commitment problems, what interim steps might be taken to more intelligently incorporate information about uncertainty into unit-commitment and dispatch?
    • How can uncertainty be described in a manageable set of scenarios or constraints that improve unit-commitment and dispatch while allowing good solutions to be achieved in the required timeframe?
    • If a stochastic unit-commitment model is used, how should prices be calculated, given that the stochastic unit-commitment formulation no longer produces as part of its solution a single set of deterministic shadow prices for power at each location?
    • How would a stochastic day-ahead unit commitment mechanism alter current market software for other processes (for example, reliability unit-commitment processes)?
    • What steps toward better incorporation of uncertainty into unit-commitment might be taken over the next 5 to 10 years?
    • What methods can be used to calculate requirements for contingency reserves and regulating reserves?
      • How can reserves calculations more completely capture the uncertainty and variability of the system, including forecast error?
      • How can outage probability be captured in contingency reserve calculations, and how good is the available data?
      • What methods can be used to determine reserve zones?

  2. Optimal transmission switching:
    • Simple optimal direct current (DC) transmission switching appears to represent a potentially solvable technical problem using existing computational resources if transmission operators optimize only a small number of transmission switch positions. It is less clear whether transmission switching model formulations that include realistic representations of reliability requirements are solvable. What is the performance of these more complex model formulations?
    • What additional computational impediments, if any, exist to implementing optimal transmission switching over a small number of switches while maintaining reliability?
    • What steps toward optimal transmission switching might be taken over the next 5 to 10 years?

  3. AC optimal power flow modeling:
    • What is the current state of computational capability with respect to dependably solving AC optimal power flow problems, including analysis of power system reliability?
    • Discussions during previous conferences have centered on concerns that current system data quality might not allow for an AC optimal power flow model to be properly formulated and solved. What are the specific data concerns, and what needs to be done to address them? What accuracy of solutions is appropriate?
    • What steps toward use of AC optimal power flow modeling might be taken over the next 5 to 10 years?

  4. Transmission limit modeling:
    • Previous presentations examined the use of post-contingency analysis when determining transmission ratings, including consideration of availability of ramping capability. How can (or have) adaptive transmission ratings been implemented?
    • Previous presentations also examined how transmission ratings might be updated in real time in response to ambient conditions. How have such dynamic transmission ratings been implemented?
    • What are the data or computational challenges associated with implementing adaptive or dynamic transmission ratings?
    • How can inter-temporal considerations regarding transmission line loadings and limits be incorporated into economic dispatch algorithms?

  5. What improvements have occurred in linear programs, nonlinear programs and mixed integer programing (MIPs) for faster and/or better solutions?

  6. What new and more efficient approaches to loop flow and joint dispatch have been developed? How much inefficiency exists in the current process?

Discussion of these topics should highlight any advances made since last year’s conference and provide context for any proposals or presentations on best practices, other analyses of current operations with respect to these and related topics, and provide opportunity to discuss existing practices that need improvement.

The technical conference was held at:

    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    888 First Street, NE
    Rooms 3M-2, 3M-3, and 3M-4
    Washington, DC 20426


Logistical Information
Sarah McKinley
Telephone: 202 502-8004

Technical Information
Daniel Kheloussi
Telephone: 202 502-6391
Email :
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