Transmission Planning, Operations and Controls

///Transmission Planning, Operations and Controls
Transmission Planning, Operations and Controls 2020-02-18T17:44:09+00:00

Sandia’s hardware and analytical solutions aid in planning for the next generation grid and address emerging issues in our current systems to minimize the consequences one or more threats can have on the grid.

Addressing Aging Infrastructure and Reliability Challenges

Without dramatic improvements and upgrades over the next decade, our nation’s transmission system will fall short of the reliability standards our economy requires, and will result in higher electricity costs to consumers. Planning what updates and new transmission is needed to meet our nation’s needs is important to create a cost-effective, reliable, and flexible transmission network. Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO), Independent System Operators (ISO), and utilities face grid operation challenges that include cycling and ramping of conventional generation, transmission utilization patterns, and generation curtailment. Sandia works closely with these operators to enhance the reliability of electric power systems and prevent widespread outages or instability.

Research Areas

Production Cost Modeling

PRESCIENT, a stochastic production cost modeling tool, automatically produces probabilistic forecasts from deterministic historical forecasts for load, solar, and/ or wind power production and their respective time-correlated actuals. Optimization problems for the grid are exceptionally difficult to solve stochastically, but PRESCIENT’s solution method can take hundreds of scenarios and solve the system’s commitment and dispatch problems in tens of minutes, showing the real value of variable generation. This tool uses commercially available solvers such as CPLEX and GUROBI or freely available ones such as GLPK and CBC.

Solar and Wind Integration

Sandia National Laboratories and Group NIRE (Lubbock, TX) are developing prototype technology that will allow wind turbine generators to help stabilize the frequency of the power transmission grid after sudden loss of generation capacity or other transient faults occur. The demonstration project, funded through a DOE EERE Small Business Voucher, may eventually enable wind generators to provide valuable grid stabilization services and reduce wind generation curtailment. The Sandia team was the first to successfully develop and test similar technology in conjunction with Bonneville Power Administration, using the Pacific DC Intertie. This project will utilize turbines at Sandia’s Scaled Wind Farm Technology (SWiFT) site in Lubbock, TX.

Expansion Planning

Traditional transmission and generation expansion planning models are based on deterministic optimization methodologies, e.g., mixed-integer programming. Consequently, they are unable to capture the range of uncertainty associated with renewables production – which has a major impact on the performance of any planned system. Stochastic transmission and generation expansion planning models have been recently proposed to address this limitation. These models are significantly more difficult to solve, requiring the use of advanced decomposition strategies and parallel compute platforms. Consequently, only relatively small test systems have been investigated. The purpose of this project is to scale solver technologies for stochastic transmission and generation expansion planning models to more realistic and larger-scale systems, specifically a reduced-order model of the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). The resulting scalable solvers will allow for the investigation of high-resolution models of renewables production and their impact on expansion planning solutions.

Click here to learn more about how Sandia’s Advanced Grid Modeling Program is working to address the challenges currently facing the electric power industry due to  new market rules, regulatory policies and emerging technologies that have been adopted or are in place. As the electric delivery system continues to evolve, the availability of more detailed data about system conditions through advanced grid modeling will help improve the system’s reliability and flexibility. (Page Currently Under Construction)


Wide Area Damping Control

Sandia has developed a grid damping control strategy that employs real power injections at strategically located points in the grid based upon feedback from real-time Phasor Measurement Units (PMU). The primary objective of this work is to design and demonstrate a prototype control system for damping inter-area oscillations in large-scale interconnected power systems. A key element of the control strategy is a high-level supervisory controller that monitors the behavior of the power system, the PMU network, and the real-time control loop to ensure safe, secure, and reliable damping performance.

Understanding PMU Latencies in Closed Loop Feedback Controls

Additional Research Areas:

  • Stochastic commitment and dispatch
  • Developing stochastic scenarios from historic forecasts
  • Multi-objective multi-resource dispatch
  • Decision support for post-contingency grid security

Phasor Measurement Units are used in Sandia’s Control & Optimization of Networked Energy Technologies Lab to advance the grid’s resiliency and reliability.

Control & Optimization of Networked Energy Technologies (CONET) Lab

The CONET lab provides a fundamental piece of a Sandia structured laboratory system for electric grid research. This lab plays a vital role in the research and development of coordinating networked and distributed systems for several different operational objectives.  Achieving these research objectives requires five basic capabilities, cross-cut by cyber security: coordinated communications, controls for distributed systems, optimal dispatch, protection and reconfiguration, and prognostics and decision support.


Webinar: Hydrogen Risk Assessment Models Update 2.0

On Tuesday, January 28, 2020, at 12 p.m. Eastern, the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's Fuel Cell Technologies Office (FCTO) will host a live webinar titled "Hydrogen Risk [...]

Wind program patent breathes new life into turbine siting

Sandia National Laboratories researchers Christopher Kelley, David Maniaci and former Sandian Brian R. Resor were recently issued a patent for their work, “Wind Turbine Blades, Wind Turbines and Wind Farms Having Increased Power Output.” Kelley, [...]

Sandia publishes roadmap for enhanced microgrid protection

By Dan Ware Sandia, in conjunction with experts from around the country, has published a roadmap for the research and development of microgrid protection in a recent report titled Microgrid Protection: Advancing the State of [...]

Explore the Electric Grid of the Future

August 10th is the deadline to register for The Grid of the Future Workshop hosted by Sandia National Laboratories on August 22, 2018, in Albuquerque, NM. This one-day workshop will gather experts from various fields [...]

control system for active damping of inter-area oscillations

2017 R&D 100 Award: Control System for Active Damping of Inter-Area Oscillations

Today, electric power grids operate well below transmission capacity to avoid widespread outages due to inter-area oscillations. This new control system improves electric power grid reliability by continuously damping inter-area oscillations, allowing greater power transfer. This control system is the first successful grid demonstration of feedback control, making it a game changer in efforts to transform the existing grid into the future smart grid. Watch the video.

Raymond Byrne Ph.D.

Ray Byrne is the team lead for the Analytics and Regulatory Thrust Area of Sandia’s Energy Storage Systems Program. His research interests include optimal control of energy storage to maximize revenue and grid benefits, as well as control problems related to the grid integration of renewables. Ray is a fellow of the IEEE and a member of Eta Kappa Nu. He is a distinguished member of the technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories, where he has been employed since 1989. Ray holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Virginia, an M.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from the University of New Mexico (control theory and electronics). He also received an M.S. in financial mathematics from the University of Chicago.

 David Schoenwald, Ph.D.

David Schoenwald is a principal member of the technical staff in the Electric Power Systems Research Department at Sandia National Laboratories.  In his current work, he focuses on control system design for damping inter-area power system oscillations, mitigation of network-induced issues in control systems employing real-time measurement feedback, and development of performance standards for grid-scale energy storage systems.  In prior work, he has developed models and simulations for a diverse set of applications including agent-based economic models for critical infrastructures, system dynamics models for study of counter-insurgency tactics, and stability analysis of robotic swarms.  Before joining Sandia, he was with Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he developed models and controls for manufacturing applications.  He was also an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where he taught a graduate level course in nonlinear control systems. He received a B.S. from the University of Iowa, an M.S. degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and a Ph.D. degree from The Ohio State University.

Brian J. Pierre, PhD

Brian J. Pierre is a senior member of technical staff at Sandia National Laboratories in the Electric Power Systems Research Department. His most recent research is focused on power system resilience and power system controls. Prior to his work at Sandia, Brian worked at the NASA Glenn Research Center and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories. Brian received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering focused on electric power systems from Arizona State University.


Matthew J. Reno, PhD

Matthew J. Reno started working at Sandia National Laboratories in 2003 and is a senior member of technical staff in the Electric Power Systems Research Department. His expertise in quasi-static time series analysis of distribution grid feeders and circuit reduction methods has led to transformative changes to speed up feeder modeling. Matt received his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology.


Felipe Wilches-Bernal, Ph.D.

Felipe Wilches-Bernal is a senior research engineer in the Electric Power Systems Research Department at Sandia National Laboratories. Felipe’s work includes power system wide-area control and monitoring using phasor measurement units, studying the impact of communications on real-time control, and developing the future smart-grid. He also has experience analyzing the effects that high levels of wind energy penetration have on the bulk power system. Felipe obtained his Ph.D. in electric power and control at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY; his M.Sc. in control and signal processing at Université Paris-Sud XI in Orsay, France; and his B.Sc. in electrical engineering at Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia.

Ricky Concepcion

Ricky Concepcion joined the Electric Power Systems Research Department at Sandia National Laboratories as a member of technical staff in 2014. He has conducted research in the areas of state estimation, dynamic simulation and control of high photovoltaic penetration transmission systems, and energy storage system valuation. His other research interests include signal processing in the smart grid, statistical signal processing, and optimization. Ricky received a B.S. in engineering physics and an M.Eng. in electrical and computer engineering from Cornell University in Ithaca, NY.

Michael Baca, Ph.D.

Michael Baca has extensive experience and background in the electric power industry. With Sandia, he has extensive experience in the areas of cyber security, energy surety, resilience, power modeling, and advanced microgrid analysis and design. Specifically, he has done project and technical work to analyze and develop advanced microgrid designs for the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense customers both for military facilities and commercial sites. Prior to working at Sandia, Mike worked with Bonneville Power Engineering for 10 years as an electrical test engineer where he commissioned several large power substations, and he worked with Intel for three years where he helped commission the distribution infrastructure for Fab 11X in Rio Rancho, New Mexico. He has an M.S. in electric power engineering and a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of New Mexico.


B. Pierre, F. Wilches-Bernal, D. Schoenwald, D. Trudnowski, R. Elliott, R. Byrne, J. Neely, “Design of a Pacific DC Intertie Wide Area Damping Controller,” IEEE Transactions on Power Systems, vol. 34, no. 5, Sept. 2019. SAND2019-3169J.

B. Pierre, H. Villegas, R. Elliott, J. Flicker, Y. Lin, B. Johnson, J. Eto, R. Lasseter, A. Ellis, “Bulk Power System Dynamics with Varying Levels of Grid-forming Inverters and Synchronous Generators,” Proceedings IEEE Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC), June 2019. SAND2019-6253C.

B. Pierre, M. Elkhatib, A. Hoke, “Photovoltaic Inverter Momentary Cessation –Fast Recovery Time is Key,” IEEE Proceedings Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC), June 2019. SAND2019-6247C.

David A. Schoenwald, Brian J. Pierre, Felipe Wilches-Bernal, Ryan T. Elliott, Raymond H. Byrne, Jason C. Neely and Daniel J. Trudnowski; “PDCI Damping Controller – Summary of Project Achievements,” 2019, Report for the DOE Office of Electricity.


C. Lackner, F. Wilches-Bernal, B. Pierre, D. Schoenwald, “A Tool to Characterize Power System Communication Networks with Synchrophasor Data,” IEEE Power and Energy Technology Systems Journal, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 117-128, Dec. 2018. SAND2018-12066J.

B. Pierre, B. Arguello, “Investment Optimization to Improve Power Distribution System Reliability Metrics,” Proceedings IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting, Aug. 2018. SAND2018-3326C.

B. Pierre, B. Arguello, A. Staid, R. Guttromson, “Investment Optimization to Improve Power System Resilience,” Proceedings IEEE Probabilistic Methods Applied to Power Systems (PMAPS), June 2018. SAND2018-3685C.

F. Wilches-Bernal, B. Pierre, D. Schoenwald, R. Elliott, D. Trudnowski, “Time Synchronization in Wide Area Damping Control of Power Systems,” Proceedings IEEE Probabilistic Methods Applied to Power Systems (PMAPS), June 2018. SAND2018-2804C.

B. Pierre, M. Elkhatib, A. Hoke, “PV Inverter Fault Response Including Momentary Cessation, Frequency-Watt, and Virtual Inertia,” IEEE Proceedings Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC), June 2018. SAND2018-5578C.

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