Transmission Management in an Evolving Electricity Ecosystem

Many end-users of electricity hardly think of transmission lines apart from a brief glance at the giant poles and structures traversing the countryside, which, of course, immediately dematerialize and become part of the passing landscape. The importance of a robust transmission network as the critical foundation to a reliable, sustainable, and smart energy grid cannot be overemphasized. Our integrated transmission network has opened up our country to immense economic growth and opportunities and it has enhanced reliability, relieved congestion, provided flexibility, lowered cost of electricity to ratepayers, and more importantly, limited the ability of generators to exercise market power by facilitating a highly competitive wholesale power market. 

Given that transmission lines have a long life span—at least 40 years—the benefits of a well-developed transmission network have changed as the energy industry has evolved. A few decades ago, these add-on benefits had comparatively little impact to the grid, which was constructed by vertically integrated utilities. Today, the rapid growth in Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) (with their high levels of intermittency), the rise in grid-edge devices (with their associated integration nuances), and the combined amounts of data generated, are putting a heavy strain on an aging transmission network that is not accustomed to such disruptive behaviors. The network’s legacy systems were never intended to provide the kinds of services currently being demanded by a modern and smarter energy infrastructure. There is  a general consensus to overhaul the transmission network as a precursor to building a modern electric-power system that can satisfy society’s goals. This is further driven by interests like securing the grid against cyber-attacks and the interconnection of new solar and wind farms to enhance resiliency against extreme weather events like Hurricane Sandy.

These pressing needs require a dynamic, secure, and upgraded transmission network that is equipped with best-in-class communication technologies that would seamlessly integrate and account for grid edge devices and IoTs. The benefits to all stakeholders are real and already being experienced as these changes are being implemented. For example, Florida Power & Light’s (FPL) investment of more than $2 billion since 2006 “to build a stronger, smarter and more storm-resilient energy grid” paid off by delivering faster power restoration when Hurricane Sandy hit the state in 2012 according to
The Edison Foundation Institute for Electric Innovation (IEI). This is indicative of the general agreement that a modern electric-power system would be more reliable, more resilient, more secure, and more efficient while providing transmission managers the means to satisfy end-user demand for choice of power source.

While there are many benefits to be gained with a more modern electric-power system, this change will increase the complexity of transmission scheduling greatly. The large number of transmission providers/services entering the network, quick timelines to make critical decisions and act, as well as the complexity of moving power further across the increased number of transmission providers, has made it increasingly apparent that a changing transmission landscape demands sophisticated management and pricing tools. This is where OATI can help.

OATI understands what it takes to maintain system reliability and enhanced resiliency in extreme conditions. 
OATI webTransmissionManager was built on the success of OATI webSmartTag® and webSmartOASIS®, which are community systems used by nearly all North American energy entities. OATI webTransmissionManager is a comprehensive platform for quick and easy buying of transmission capacity needed to fulfill scheduling obligations across multiple paths, Transmission Providers (TPs), and Balancing Authorities (BAs). With this intuitive and easy-to-use tool, transmission managers can efficiently optimize their daily operations and enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing that no matter the radical changes that are happening within the industry, they are covered.