Wednesday, July 17, 2013

The Heat Wave and Electric Power Supply Chain Networks

I hope that you are comfortable wherever you are.

The U.S. from the Midwest to the Northeast is in the midst of a major heat wave with scorching temperatures.

The impacts on comfort, air quality, and human health have been great.

The same holds for the pressures on our electric power grids and the associated supply chains.

Even our local paper, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, had three feature front page articles today with the headline RECORD SETTER? One of the articles noted that the heat wave is putting stress on the power grid and the demand this week may outpace that recorded back in August 2, 2006. 2 out of the top 10 demands for electric power in our community occurred in July 2006 and 3 in August 2006.

ISO New England, which is the Holyoke agency that operates the power grid for the six New England states reported the above results and is warning the region to decrease demand and take other measures to reduce electric power use. I toured the ISO New England facilities with a group of our UMass Amherst INFORMS Student Chapter members a few years ago -- simply stunning and fascinating and to see the optimization in action on huge screens was a real thrill for all of us. ISO New England is responsible for the reliability of electric power in New England, a big task.

Interestingly, my former doctoral student, Dr. Zugang "Leo" Liu, and I published a paper, An Integrated Electric Power Supply Chain and Fuel Market Network Framework: Theoretical Modeling with Empirical Analysis for New England, in the Naval Research Logistics 56: (2009) pp 600-624, which used a dataset for precisely the hottest month reported by ISO New England and, in the paper, we captured both the economic and engineering aspect of this electric power supply chain with alternative fuel sources.

This topic is very timely and even my fellow Brown University classmate, Matt Wald, writes in The New York Times about the complexity of the electric power grid and the many decision-makers involved in his feature, "Ideas to Bolster Power Grid Run Up Against System's Many Owners."

Plans are calling for a redesign of the U.S. electric grid, which could also significantly lower emissions.

Some of our other work on electric power supply chains has explored policies for emission reduction:
Optimal Endogenous Carbon Taxes for Electric Power Supply Chains with Power Plants
Anna Nagurney, Zugang Liu, and Trisha Woolley,  Mathematical and Computer Modelling 44: (2006) pp 899-916,

Modeling Generator Power Plant Portfolios and Pollution Taxes in Electric Power Supply Chain Networks: A Transportation Network Equilibrium Transformation
Kai Wu, Anna Nagurney, Zugang Liu, and John Stranlund, Transportation Research D 11: (2006) pp 171-190.

We have the models, algorithms, and insights to bring our electric power grids into the 21st century but it seems that we lack the political will.

How sad!