Researchers receive Electrical Power Systems best paper award

ECE News

Bridget Maiellaro, ECE Illinois

Story Highlights

  • Prof. George Gross and grad student Rajesh Nelli received the Best Paper Award in the Electrical Power Systems track at the 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences.
  • The paper, titled "An Integrated Architecture for Demand Response Communications and Control" details ways to lower electricity bills through new methods of electricity metering.
George  Gross
George Gross

ECE Professor George Gross and graduate student Rajesh Nelli recently received the best paper award in the Electrical Power Systems restructuring track at the 41st Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences for their paper, “An Integrated Architecture for Demand Response Communications and Control.”

The paper, which was co-authored by computer science Professor Carl A. Gunter and graduate student Michael LeMay, reports some of the work undertaken within the scope of the University of Illinois Information Trust Institute’s Trustworthy Cyber Infrastructure for the Power Grid project. It introduces a new system, referred to as the Meter Gateway Architecture (MGA) that aims to lower electricity consumers’ power bills and prevent excess emissions and fuel consumption.

Rajesh Bajjal Nelli
Rajesh Bajjal Nelli

“These meters essentially can measure when you use electricity,” Gross said. “In the old style metering, they take a measurement sometime this month, and they will take a measurement sometime a month later and say, ‘This is your utilization.’ The problem with electricity is that not all electricity is created equal.”

Gross said that energy used in the late afternoon is probably more valuable and more costly than energy used in the middle of the night, when not as many people are using a variety of appliances at once. With this knowledge accumulated through the MGA system-based meters, electric companies are able to bill customers according to the time dependent price of electricity, as opposed to a flat time invariant rate.

“If you can respond to those signals, then you have the ability to control your electricity bill,” Gross said. “Consumers can shift their electric energy uses during those periods when electricity is cheaper or cheapest.”

However, lower electricity bills are not the only reason the research team wants to install these meters. Gross said that they will lead to improved utilization of electricity generating facilities.

“Electricity as a commodity is possibly the most volatile commodity in the world,” he said. “It depends on factors, such as the price of fuel. When the price of oil gets close to a hundred dollars a barrel, it’s going to impact the cost of electricity. It’s also going to influence which units are able to generate electricity and when it is used.”

Gross said the critical concern for companies is being able to provide consumers with the electricity they demand. As a way to ensure everyone such service, new generation facilities need to be built.

“When we look around the world now at (other countries), there are a tremendous number of outages because they just don’t have enough power plants built for them to meet the increasing demand in electricity,” he said.

Therefore, Gross said that when people begin to use electricity outside of peak hours, the peak will be lowered, and new facilities will not be need to be built to meet the rising demand or the need is deferred.

“This stuff is hot now, and the realization is finally bringing in the demand side very actively,” Gross said. “It really makes a lot of sense and cents.”

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