MIT Energy Initiative and AVANGRID collaborate to study the future of the electricity industry

MITEI, IIT Comillas, and AVANGRID creating model that could inform New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan by simulating impact of distributed resources on the power system


Today, the wholesale price of electricity is largely driven by the availability and operating cost of large power plants as well as congestion in the high-voltage transmission system. It does not take into account many of the low-carbon energy technologies that are rapidly being deployed onto the electric grid.

The MIT Energy Initiative—in collaboration with IIT Comillas—is working with AVANGRID, the parent company of New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG), Rochester Gas and Electric (RG&E), Central Maine Power and United Illuminating, to create a model that could support New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan by simulating how distributed resources, such as solar photovoltaics, battery storage, and combined heat and power might impact the power system. This model seeks to identify the scale at which distributed generation becomes beneficial to the grid while taking into account potential impacts on electricity prices, grid reliability and the environment.

With the REV plan, New York has embarked on an unprecedented journey to reimagine the electric grid. REV envisions a grid that relies on significantly more distributed resources in order to create a more efficient, resilient, and affordable electricity delivery system.

“Given the importance of understanding the impact of distributed energy resources on the power system, this collaboration provides an opportunity to obtain data from real-world networks that can be used to inform New York’s REV plan as well as leverage some of the MIT Utility of the Future Study activities,” said Raanan Miller, executive director of the Utility of the Future Study at the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI).

The collaboration with AVANGRID is part of MITEI’s broader Utility of the Future Study. The study brings together a diverse consortium of leading international companies to address emerging issues in the electric power sector, and uses extensive modeling and analytical tools along with a “first best benchmark” as a means to evaluate and recommend regulatory frameworks and pathways for the ongoing evolution of the power sector worldwide.

“The AVANGRID utilities in New York are leaders in the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision plan, including the integration of distributed resources to provide clean energy and innovative services to our customers,” said Robert Kump, CEO of the AVANGRID networks business. “Our collaboration with MITEI’s Utility of the Future Study supports New York’s initiatives by uniting the global resources of AVANGRID and the Iberdrola Group with one of the world’s pre-eminent research institutions.”

“We use a novel approach to simulating the impact on electricity power systems by modeling, in detail, different market mechanisms, transmission and distribution networks, as well as centralized and distributed energy resources,” said graduate student Michael Birk, research assistant on the MIT Energy Initiative Utility of the Future Study, and Statoil-MITEI Energy Fellow.

“We are in an exciting time of innovation in the energy industry,” said Jeff Ballard, vice president of operations technology and business transformation at AVANGRID. “We are thinking about the grid in new ways and it is clear that we will innovate through collaboration, not by working in isolation. Working with MITEI is providing new perspective on the challenges and opportunities we face.” 

This article appears in the issue of Energy Futures.

Basic energy scienceElectric powerIndustry

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