Keeping the Lights On: Preparing for the Electric Grid of the Future. Discover what challenges and opportunities will be faced by the country's electric grid in the future as we decarbonize.
The electric utility infrastructure has three major components – generation, transmission, and distribution. The power plants generate the electricity and are thus often referred to as the generation. The transmission lines are the wires at high voltage that deliver the generation from the power plants to the population centers. There at the substations, the voltage is lowered through transformers and then sent over distribution wires at these lower voltages to the ultimate customers. Ultimate customers fall into three broad general classes – industrial, commercial and residential. Reliability of service is a hallmark of the electric utility industry – such that most of the public just takes the provision of electricity twenty-four hours a day/seven days per week for granted.
Electric utility infrastructure fits within the category of energy as part of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) Infrastructure Report Card. In 2017 ASCE gave the energy infrastructure, including electric utilities, a grade of D+; in 2021, the grade improved to a C-. This grade as applied to the electric grid component of energy reflects that much of the generation, transmission, and distribution have gotten old and serious steps need to be taken to update and upgrade them, particularly as the demands on the electric grid change.
What types of demands are there? The large list includes decarbonization, renewables, nuclear, electric vehicles, distributed energy, energy storage, microgrids and more. The challenges facing what has been called the largest machine in the world – the electric grid in the U.S. – are immense but so are the opportunities. All of the challenges need to be addressed while the industry continues to provide reliable, safe and economic electric power to customers.
The chapter from which this presentation is derived was published in the volume titled "Women in Infrastructure" (Peggy Layne, P.E. and Jill S. Tietjen, P.E., editors, Springer Nature), part of the Springer Women in Engineering and Science series. https://www.springer.com/series/15424.
About the Speaker:
Jill S. Tietjen, P.E. is the President and CEO of Technically Speaking, Inc. An electrical engineer, she has spent more than 46 years in the electric utility industry where she provided planning consulting services to electric utilities and organizations comprising the electric utility industry and served as an expert witness before public utility commissions and other government agencies. An author (12 books published to date) and international speaker, Tietjen's introduction to engineering textbook, Keys to Engineering Success, was published by Prentice Hall in 2001. Her ebook for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ Women in Engineering series titled Recognizing and Taking Advantage of Opportunities was published in 2016. She is the series editor for Springer’s Women in Engineering and Science series, has written two volumes in the series and has served as co-volume editor for two volumes.Tietjen has received numerous awards and honors including Women eNews 21 Leaders of the 21st Century (2016); the 2001 Woman in Technology Award from the Women’s Foundation of Colorado, Subaru, and News4; Tau Beta Pi’s Distinguished Alumna Award; and she was named a Woman of Distinction by Girl Scouts – Mile Hi Council. In 2017, she received the Advocate for Women and Girls Award from Girl Scouts of Colorado and the General Palmer Award from ACEC-Colorado. She has been named a Distinguished Alumna from the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and the University of Colorado at Boulder. She served as the 1991-1992 National President of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and has been elected a SWE Fellow. She was the first woman president of the Rocky Mountain Electrical League, the trade association in the West serving the electric utility industry and a co-founder of the RMEL Foundation. Tietjen is a member of the Board of Directors for Georgia Transmission Corporation of Tucker, Georgia and served as an outside director for Merrick & Company of Greenwood Village, Colorado from 2010-2021. She has been inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame and the Colorado Author’s Hall of Fame. Her story, titled “Engineering Women Back into History,” was aired on Rocky Mountain PBS as part of the Great Colorado Women film series and is accessible through the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame web site film library.
Tietjen graduated from the University of Virginia (Tau Beta Pi, Virginia Alpha) with a B.S. in Applied Mathematics (minor in Electrical Engineering) and received her M.B.A. from the University of North Carolina – Charlotte. At UVA, she was a member of Trigon and the Raven Society and she lived at #50 East Lawn her fourth year. She is a registered professional engineer in Colorado.
Host: Robert White