Schuler on Public Policy re Electrical Distribution Grid

Schuler on Public Policy re Electrical Distribution Grid. In “Electricity Supply Organization: Which End is Up?” (Utilities Project, 2002), Cornell Prof. Richard Schuler wrote in terms of network science and law while advocating roles for federal, state and local government in improving the transmission grid: “complexity science suggests that as the number of firm interconnections increases, the probability of large cascading failures (a major, regional blackout) also increases, even though average system reliability may improve. These reliability concerns are amplified by the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, since decentralized systems are generally more robust and resilient in the face of simultaneous, coordinated assaults than are tightly coupled, centrally controlled networks. * * * To the extent that jurisdictional squabbles at the ISO or state borders impede power transfer, the Commerce Clause of the Constitution can be invoked to tear those barriers down, just as the anti-trust laws must be enforced to avoid self-dealing across borders.”

He addresses proposals for local, distributed generation: “Advocates of choice through widespread regional markets think in terms of the traditional large-scale facility, but choice can also be offered by multiple vendors of small-scale distributed generation, and the institutional structures required to support these alternatives are quite different. So, in the quest for greater reliability and security, there is a trade-off between providing greater regional coordination and increasing susceptibility to occasional catastrophic, widespread failure. “

He closes with a clear policy position and regulatory perspective rooted in the United States Constitution: “the primary thrust of larger entities should be to facilitate transmission construction as well as to distill and disseminate the best operating and market-structure practices while alternatives are being explored among the various ISOs.”.

Full article: “Electricity Supply Organization: Which End is Up?” (Utilities Project, 2002).

A registered professional engineer, Prof. Richard Schuler directs the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, focusing on policy and economics of public infrastructure and utilities. From 1981 to 1983, he served as Commissioner and Deputy Chairman of the New York State Public Service Commission and before his graduate studies, he served as an economist with Battelle Memorial Institute, and as an engineer and manager with the Pennsylvania Power and Light Company. Dr. Schuler is a frequent contributor to scholarly journals and co-author of “The Future of Electrical Energy: A Regional Perspective of an Industry in Transition,” (1986). He has served many boards and committees, including Cornell's Board of Directors and he is currently a board member of the New York State Independent System Operator (oversight of the transmission operation and electricity markets). In 1982, he was named named him one of twelve “stars of state government” by the Washington Monthly. Source. … [Unintended Consequences]

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