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The Changing Face Of Electric Power Systems: Teaching For A Challenging Future

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Trends in Energy Conversion/Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1240.1 - 9.1240.10

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Paper Authors

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John Stratton

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session Number 2004-339

The Changing Face of Electric Power Systems: Teaching For a Challenging Future

John A. Stratton

Rochester Institute of Technology


When will the next big blackout be? How secure is our electric power system? Will we be re- regulating the electric power industry? Will we each have a fuel cell in our backyard to generate the power we consume?

The generation and delivery of electric power has changed significantly in the last decade, and will continue to change in the next decade. The deregulation of electric utilities, the continuing need for environmentally friendly systems, the increasing use of limited natural resources, the technical innovations in the design and simulation of power systems, the need for “quality” power, and the potential of very small generating plants (micro-turbines, fuel cells, etc.) in or near load centers have begun to effect the generation and delivery of electric power in ways previously not envisioned.

The California crisis of the last few years, the blackouts in the northeast in the summer of 2003 and the continuing blackouts across the world have brought the electric generation, transmission and distribution network back into world engineering and political thought and debate. This paper will summarize the yearlong study undertaken during a sabbatical leave for the purpose of determining the future of electric power systems and how this will impact the courses in electric power systems at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Why all the changes?

The current backbone of the electric power system was constructed in the first 80 years of the twentieth century to provide power through vertically integrated regulated electric utilities. After many mergers and some bankruptcies, the federal government passed the Federal Power Act in the 1930’s. This established the basic groundwork for investor owned utilities for many years. The United States federal government mandated a move to a deregulated environment in the late 1980’s, followed soon after by specific laws to this effect by most states. This was a major change from the previous arrangement of vertically integrated electric utilities, with implementation frequently not well planned or executed. This is a classic example of competition by mandate, and not market driven competition.

“Proceedings of the 2003 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright ©2003, American Society for Engineering Education”

Stratton, J. (2004, June), The Changing Face Of Electric Power Systems: Teaching For A Challenging Future Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah.

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