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This paper explores methods to coordinate aggregations of thermostatically controlled loads (TCLs; including air conditioners and refrigerators) to manage frequency and energy imbalances in power systems. We focus on opportunities to centrally control loads with high accuracy but low requirements for sensing and communications infrastructure. We compare cases when measured load state information (e.g., power consumption and temperature) is 1) available in real time; 2) available, but not in real time; and 3) not available. We use Markov chain models to describe the temperature state evolution of populations of TCLs, and Kalman filtering for both state and joint parameter/state estimation. A look-ahead proportional controller broadcasts control signals to all TCLs, which always remain in their temperature dead-band. Simulations indicate that it is possible to achieve power tracking RMS errors in the range of 0.26%-9.3% of steady state aggregated power consumption. We also report results in terms of the generator compliance threshold which is commonly used in industry. Results depend upon the information available for system identification, state estimation, and control. Depending upon the performance required, TCLs may not need to provide state information to the central controller in real time or at all.
Date of Publication: Feb. 2013