Systems Dynamic Modeling--Applications in the Utility Industry
Source: Idaho National Engineering Laboratory
Date: 10/1/95    Record No.: 10212
Contact: Michael Bray, 208-526-4714; Donald Sebo, 208-526-4467; Larry Redd, 208-526-5288

Systems Dynamic Modeling--Applications in the Utility Industry
Systems Dynamics, first popularized in the 70s by Forrester at MIT and more recently by Peter Senge in the "Fifth Discipline," analyzes behavior over time of a system as a whole, rather than as isolated parts.

In complex systems, obvious solutions often fail to produce intended results and may produce unintended side effects; cause and effect may not be closely related in time; the effects of feedback over time are not intuitive, and there is resistance to change often resulting from feedback loops. Policy formation requires an understanding of these dynamics: an archtypical example--building freeways to relieve traffic congestion has the opposite effect.

There are many areas that could benefit from this kind of analysis, such as customer retention, impact of regulatory changes, vehicles fleet standards, impact of new technologies (fuel cells, alternate fuels, etc.), distributed generation, and corporate re-engineering.

The DOE Idaho Field Office (Larry Redd) is working with DOE headquarters in an attempt to get a handle on the possible outcomes of utility industry competition and restructuring, but they're having a hard time getting a clear picture. Different utility companies have dramatically different outlooks and plans for their own strategic directions, and industry observers likewise have widely ranging views of what is and will be happening. The results of the study will be used in part to determine what research projects will be funded by DOE in future years. This effort offers utilities a way to input their ideas about DOE research priorities! (DU, Distributed Utilities)