Background

PCE is a privately held consulting and software development company with extensive expertise in generation control.

PCE created the technical basis for and derivation of standards that measure utility generation control performance, as adopted and implemented by NERC. PCE's automatic generation control software utilizes advanced algorithms developed at PCE. It has been installed in a number of utilities and has outperformed competing systems in every direct comparison of operation. PCE's powerful and innovative tools for control performance analysis give an unmatched level of information for fine-tuning the generation control process. PCE has also provided consulting to industry groups, markets, and regulated utilities in areas related to generation control, helping to make interconnection operation more efficient and reliable.

PCE was founded in 1994 by Nasser Jaleeli and Louis VanSlyck. Under a contract from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), PCE developed a set of innovative statistical theories for interconnected operation and many metrics for measuring different aspects of the control performance of balancing authorities. The theories established the technical basis on which NERC adopted two of PCE designed metrics as the new set of Control Performance Standards [1,2] (CPS1 and CPS2).

An achievement of potentially greater importance has been the development of a breakthrough concept in control technology, Priority-based Control. It outperforms any known control concept including fuzzy, optimal, neural, adaptive, etc., control. Priority-based Control utilizes all experience it gains from the system under its control and any known information for the future to achieve targeted objectives with minimum control actions. It achieves its objectives by ensuring that the average of the control error over a specific time-window determined from characteristics of the control system is truly random.

Studies published by EPRI and IEEE, as well as PCE's own market analysis, indicate that unit maneuvering is costly. With that in mind, PCE has employed this proprietary control concept to develop the Priority-based Generation Control (PGC) technology in order to minimize balancing authority unit maneuvering by utilizing all the benefits of CPS1 and CPS2. All utilities that have acquired PGC have reported considerable improvement in their bottom-line performance as they managed to eliminate excess unit maneuvering and reduce deviation from optimum economic performance. PGC has now been installed in electric utilities with generation capacity ranging from about 2,000 MW to over 40,000 MW, amounting to about 10% of the US total.

Since the advent of real-time electricity markets in North America, PGC technology has become an effective tool for this new environment as well. Its adaptable algorithms have been shown to substantially increase the profitability of operation by optimizing the control of generation resources in response to changing market conditions. Through a continually updating real-time prediction of market parameters, determination of the most profitable level of generation for each unit, and full utilization of the bounds allotted by market and reliability rules, PGC technology increases profit for generating companies in energy markets.

PCE has now harnessed the technologies it created for balancing authorities to help generating companies in ancillary service markets optimize their operation. A version of PGC, along with other ASM-oriented packages, has already helped a large generating company realize millions in additional profit in MISO. It adapts some of the concepts PGC utilizes to optimize generation control for balancing authorities, including sophisticated unit modeling and consideration of multiple interrelated look-ahead time windows, to achieve the most profitable generation averages within tolerance bands required by market rules.

PCE has also developed other computer-based applications for improving the generation control process and enhancing reliability in interconnected operation. One of its creations, Generation Performance Monitoring (GenPM) package, has enabled engineers, operators, and managers within the company network to view the performance of each generating unit in response to controls issued by PGC or AGC. GenPM graphically displays the data from each unit over any targeted interval in an efficient format. It has greatly improved utility staff understanding of the generation control process. In market operation, GenPM also provides detailed information on real-time market signals and settlement data in relationship to real-time operation. By relating unit performance to system and market conditions, GenPM makes it possible for operators and analysts to understand the causes of generation control issues and find opportunities for improvement. This, in turn, has substantially reduced production costs and increased profitability through enhanced dispatch of units.

GenPM also enables users to effectively analyze the reasons for the score unit control performance receives from PCE's Regulation Score Card (RSC), a software package that continually monitors performance of generating units in providing regulation and objectively evaluates their operation. By monitoring all relevant unit statistics, including rate, response time delay, AGC regulation band, and others, the RSC package identifies units and time intervals where a more detailed examination of performance will be most beneficial. Personnel of system operations, generating units, and other related departments through the company network can review scores for any unit during a targeted interval generated by RSC and, simultaneously, examine the GenPM displays relevant to the same interval. Observation of the same displays allows different groups to point out the discovered opportunities for improvement and discuss the actions needed. Such reviews have led to discovery of many different types of errors and inconsistencies in operation, and their rapid elimination.

Another of its products, the real-time Generation Control Display (GCD), graphically provides, in a single integrated screen, virtually all information the system operator needs to know in order to successfully monitor and control generation. It provides a unique perspective into past hour's CPS1/CPS2 control, and actions required to provide proper control. This innovative application has become one of the most useful and trusted displays for many system operators.

PCE offers many other customizable software packages related to generation control, including the Visual Unit Generation Scheduling package, interactive Visual Economic Dispatch, and Ancillary Services Opportunity Cost. Its CPS Reporting and Viewer software has been acquired by a number of balancing authorities, enabling them to analyze their CPS performance, and reliably and conveniently generate the required NERC reports. PCE has also created custom software packages at the request of its clients and performed consulting related to generation control for a number of companies and organizations.

[1] "Control Performance Standards and Procedures for Interconnected Operation", prepared by PCE, principal investigators: Nasser Jaleeli and Louis S. VanSlyck, EPRI TR-107813, 3555-10, Final Report, April 1997.

[2] "NERC's New Control Performance Standards", Nasser Jaleeli and Louis S. VanSlyck, IEEE T-PWRS Vol. 14, No. 3, Aug. 99, pp 1092-1099.


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