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A Quantitative Analysis of the Relationship Between Congestion and Reliability in Electric Power Networks

Restructuring efforts in the U.S. electric power sector have tried to encourage transmission investment by independent (non-utility) transmission companies, and have promoted various levels of market-based transmission investment. Underlying this shift to �merchant� transmission investment is an assumption that new transmission infrastructure can be classified as providing a congestion-relief benefit or a reliability benefit. In this paper, we demonstrate that this assumption is largely incorrect for meshed interconnections such as electric power networks. We focus on a particular network topology known as the Wheatstone network to show how congestion and reliability can represent tradeoffs. Lines that cause congestion may be justified on reliability grounds. We decompose the congestion and reliability effects of a given network alteration, and demonstrate their dependence through simulations on a 118bus test network. The true relationship between congestion and reliability depends critically on identifying the relevant range of demand for evaluating any network externalities.

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Energy Specializations: Electricity – Transmission and Network Management; Electricity – Markets and Prices ; Electricity – Policy and Regulation

JEL Codes:
D44 - Auctions
D42 - Market Structure, Pricing, and Design: Monopoly
E60 - Macroeconomic Policy, Macroeconomic Aspects of Public Finance, and General Outlook: General

Keywords: Electricity networks, congestions, reliability, electricity transmission, US

DOI: 10.5547/ISSN0195-6574-EJ-Vol28-No4-4

Published in Volume 28, Number 4 of The Quarterly Journal of the IAEE's Energy Economics Education Foundation.