“Networks, Networks, and Power System Blackouts”
By Dr. Hyde M. Merrill, Merrill Energy LLC

Monday, April 6th, 2015 from 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. in WEB 1230


Cascading blackouts of the electric power system are a large-system problem that has been troublesome since the 1960’s.  Tremendous efforts have been made to solve the problem, but the blackouts continue.

Cascading blackouts occur when the power grid is stressed.  They always start with failures in control and protective devices, or in practices and procedures.  These conditions and elements of the power system are not modeled, or are modeled only in a limited way, in today’s planning and operating analyses.

Recent research by the author and his associates has developed a new class of power system network models.  Tools of modern network theory, applied to these models, have produced powerful measures of network stress.  These have led to practical conclusions for operating and planning the bulk power system.
This is a live version of the fourth of four recorded lectures on power system planning being prepared by the author for the University of Minnesota.


Dr. Merrill retired recently from a successful sixteen-year practice as an independent consulting engineer.  Previously he worked for Power Technologies, Inc., a cutting-edge power system consulting engineering firm, and for American Electric Power Company, one of the world’s largest and most innovative electric utilities.  He taught energy strategy planning as a visiting assistant professor at MIT and power system operation and control as an adjunct professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

He received BA and MS degrees from the U of U and his PhD from MIT.  He was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 1993 for his work in generalizing optimization for problems with multiple conflicting objectives.  He is the author of about 90 papers.  He served as Technical Chairman, Executive Chairman, and Policy Committee Chairman of the Power Industry Computer Applications (PICA) Conference.  He has worked in 40 countries.  Most of his work has been on large-scale power systems problems, in the intersection of power engineering, mathematics, and economics.