IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2017 - 74

history

Dennis J. Ray, Peter W. Sauer, Robert J. Thomas, and Jay Giri

multiuniversity research
the Power Systems Engineering Research Center

I

In ThIs arTIcle, We relaTe
events leading up to the creation of the
Power systems engineering research
center (Pserc) and the problems associated with convincing people that a
group of universities can function as a
single center. The keys to this achievement are industrial support, university
collaboration, and effective management.
The article continues with a discussion
of how Pserc has evolved over the
past 20 years.

First Try
The year was 1986, the Winter Meeting
of the Ieee Power engineering society (renamed the Ieee Power & energy society, Pes) was being held in
new York city, and the United states
was experiencing a severe decline in
electric power programs. Many such
programs were shifting emphasis away
from their roots in electric power to the
aerospace industry.
The first mention of a multiuniversity activity was made by Bob Thomas
during a panel about industry-university relations; Bob had just joined the
national science Foundation (nsF) to
start the power program there. On the
panel as well was richard Balzhiser,
then president of the electric Power
research Institute (ePrI). ePrI had
a mandate to organize and coordinate
research on behalf of industry. Bob explained that it was his belief that no single university could amass the breadth of
Digital Object Identifier 10.1109/MPE.2016.2637162
Date of publication: 1 March 2017

74

ieee power & energy magazine

technical knowledge and expertise needed to comprehensively address the spectrum and complexity of power system
problems. In particular, by contracting its
commitment to power, the field of electrical engineering was expanding tremendously in terms of scope and material.
a major result was a lack of research
support by the power industry and a
major commitment to faculty research
support by the aerospace industry. One
member of the audience indicated that
the idea of a consortium center on
power systems made no sense.
This was followed by a meeting
at cornell University involving Fred
schweppe, Pete sauer, and Felix Wu.
Bob Thomas had talked to Fred about
the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) joining the effort. at
the meeting, Fred, while agreeing that
the consortium was a great idea, said
that MIT could not be a part of it. Fred
provided a good amount of educational
material he was working on and suggested we include his former student,
Marty Baughman, at the University of
Texas at austin. We agreed that Marty
would be the director of a proposal to
the nsF as Bob had a conflict there at
the time. as noted in the opening, the
proposed consortium was named the
"Power systems engineering center."
The logo on the cover of the original
proposal is shown in Figure 1(a): the
four "buses" stood for the University
of california at Berkeley, the University of Illinois at Urbana-champaign,
cornell University, and the University
of Texas at austin.
1540-7977/17©2017IEEE

The proposal, which was sent to
the nsF Office of cross-Disciplinary
research, introduced the concept of a
"consortium center." Prior to this, centers were primarily single-site organizations. The proposal included a "communication program," which described
teleconferencing for administration as
well as collaborative education. The
proposed research focus was on developing new methodologies for planning,
designing, and operating power systems under the constraints of policy issues that impact pricing structures and
reliability. The proposal was rejected
by nsF in January 1988.

Second Try
It was august 1992, and Tom schneider of ePrI was organizing a conference in california's napa Valley. Bob
Thomas talked about the consortium
concept with Tom, who said he liked
the idea and would champion it within ePrI; he thought the napa Valley
conference would afford a good opportunity to get together to discuss the
idea. here, the University of Wisconsin replaced the University of Texas. It
was at that meeting, at midnight, out
under a clear sky with a full moon,
that Felix Wu convinced Bob Thomas
to take on the role of director for another proposal.
The electric industry was beginning
to restructure. While the Federal energy regulatory commission (Ferc)
did not issue its landmark Order 888
until april 1996, there were precursors,
such as Ferc Order 636 in 1992 for
march/april 2017



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2017

IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2017 - Cover1
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IEEE Power & Energy Magazine - March/April 2017 - Cover3
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