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Computers in power: A welcome invader: Supervisory computer systems cut utility costs by scheduling generating units, planning against outages, and coordinating the sale of power

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Ways in which supervisory computer systems can cut utility costs by scheduling generating units, planning against outages, and coordinating the sale of power are discussed. Computerized energy-management systems that can track 10000 analog and 30000 digital data points in the generation and transmission systems are helping utilities meet dramatic swings in demand while remaining prepared to handle emergencies. Such systems control, in real time, all power-generating equipment and ensure that the most inexpensive fuel and the most efficient generating units are used. In addition, they monitor in real time the performance of the entire transmission system, calculating how to minimize losses, analyzing equipment safety and reliability, and helping system operators assimilate the network operation. If problems arise, energy-management systems can warn of potential power failures and advise local network operators on how to avert them.

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IEEE Spectrum  (Volume:22 ,  Issue: 2 )