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Theses Doctoral

Smart Grid Risk Management

Abad Lopez, Carlos Adrian

Current electricity infrastructure is being stressed from several directions -- high demand, unreliable supply, extreme weather conditions, accidents, among others. Infrastructure planners have, traditionally, focused on only the cost of the system; today, resilience and sustainability are increasingly becoming more important. In this dissertation, we develop computational tools for efficiently managing electricity resources to help create a more reliable and sustainable electrical grid. The tools we present in this work will help electric utilities coordinate demand to allow the smooth and large scale integration of renewable sources of energy into traditional grids, as well as provide infrastructure planners and operators in developing countries a framework for making informed planning and control decisions in the presence of uncertainty. Demand-side management is considered as the most viable solution for maintaining grid stability as generation from intermittent renewable sources increases. Demand-side management, particularly demand response (DR) programs that attempt to alter the energy consumption of customers either by using price-based incentives or up-front power interruption contracts, is more cost-effective and sustainable in addressing short-term supply-demand imbalances when compared with the alternative that involves increasing fossil fuel-based fast spinning reserves. An essential step in compensating participating customers and benchmarking the effectiveness of DR programs is to be able to independently detect the load reduction from observed meter data. Electric utilities implementing automated DR programs through direct load control switches are also interested in detecting the reduction in demand to efficiently pinpoint non-functioning devices to reduce maintenance costs. We develop sparse optimization methods for detecting a small change in the demand for electricity of a customer in response to a price change or signal from the utility, dynamic learning methods for scheduling the maintenance of direct load control switches whose operating state is not directly observable and can only be inferred from the metered electricity consumption, and machine learning methods for accurately forecasting the load of hundreds of thousands of residential, commercial and industrial customers. These algorithms have been implemented in the software system provided by AutoGrid, Inc., and this system has helped several utilities in the Pacific Northwest, Oklahoma, California and Texas, provide more reliable power to their customers at significantly reduced prices. Providing power to widely spread out communities in developing countries using the conventional power grid is not economically feasible. The most attractive alternative source of affordable energy for these communities is solar micro-grids. We discuss risk-aware robust methods to optimally size and operate solar micro-grids in the presence of uncertain demand and uncertain renewable generation. These algorithms help system operators to increase their revenue while making their systems more resilient to inclement weather conditions.

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More Information

Academic Units
Industrial Engineering and Operations Research
Thesis Advisors
Iyengar, Garud
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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