Flexible Transmission in the Smart Grid: Optimal Transmission Switching

  • Kory W. Hedman
  • Shmuel S. Oren
  • Richard P. O’Neill
Part of the Energy Systems book series (ENERGY)


There is currently a national push to create a smarter, more flexible electrical grid. Traditionally, network branches (transmission lines and transformers) in the electrical grid have been modeled as fixed assets in the short run, except during times of forced outages or maintenance. This traditional view does not permit reconfiguration of the network by system operators to improve system performance and economic efficiency. However, it is well known that the redundancy built into the transmission network in order to handle a multitude of contingencies (meet required reliability standards, i.e., prevent blackouts) over a long planning horizon can, in the short run, increase operating costs. Furthermore, past research has demonstrated that short-term network topology reconfiguration can be used to relieve line overloading and voltage violations, improve system reliability, and reduce system losses. This chapter discusses the ways that the modeling of flexible transmission assets can benefit the multi-trillion dollar electric energy industry. Optimal transmission switching is a straightforward way to leverage grid controllability; it treats the state of the transmission assets, i.e., in service or out of service, as a decision variable in the optimal power flow problem instead of treating the assets as static assets, which is the current practice today. Instead of merely dispatching generators (suppliers) to meet the fixed demand throughout the network, the new problem co-optimizes the network topology along with generation. By harnessing the choice to temporarily take transmission assets out of service, this creates a superset of feasible solutions for this network flow problem; as a result, there is the potential for substantial benefits for society even while maintaining stringent reliability standards. On the contrary, the benefits to individual market participants are uncertain; some will benefit and other will not. Consequently, this research also analyzes the impacts that optimal transmission switching may have on market participants.


Mixed integer programming Optimal power flow Power generation dispatch Power system economics Power system reliability Power transmission control 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kory W. Hedman
    • 1
  • Shmuel S. Oren
    • 2
  • Richard P. O’Neill
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Electrical, Computer, and Energy EngineeringArizona State UniversityTempeUSA
  2. 2.Industrial Engineering and Operations Research DepartmentUniversity of California at BerkeleyBerkeleyUSA
  3. 3.Federal Energy Regulatory CommissionWashingtonUSA

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