The steady improvements to the electric distribution systems have been joined by new concepts that include generation, conservation and storage of electricity, part of the Energy Policy Act dictated by Congress in 2005. The act recognizes changes in factors affecting the generation of electric energy and now includes the field of its distribution. These include increasing concerns for the environment (global warming, etc.), the ever widening gap in the supply and demand for fossil fuels (mostly oil, brought about in part by the modernization and industrialization of such countries as China and India), reflected by the rising prices of these commodities as well as by the declining availability of capital for their required development.
The act spells out in some detail plans for the use of replenishible “green” fuels and for conservation of existing ones. Involved are such “exotic” fuels as wind, sunshine (solar energy), geothermal (volcanic hot springs, etc.) hydro plants, and natural gas (methane). The last is actually a non-replenishible fossil fuel, but as its emissions are relatively clean, it is included as a preference to coal and oil.
The act also includes suggestions and regulations as well as incentives and penalties for its compliance, especially as they pertain to the so-called “green” fuels. Relatively new modes of operation as cogeneration and distributed generation are included in furthering the goals of the Energy Policy Act that will more fully engage the cooperation and coordination of the distribution engineer with the requirements of the consumer.
And so, the distribution engineer, while keeping his weather eye on innovations and improvements in materials and methods, now enters solidly into the field of power generation from “green” fuels added to those of cogeneration and distributed generation. What next? A Texas-size thank you is extended to friends and former colleagues Richard E. Gibbons and Kenneth W. Smalling, and to The Fairmont Press for their aid and encouragement. And no less for her patience and understanding to my beloved wife of sixty years. proportion to 30 cents, still a substantial amount.
With society, in all walks of life, becoming more dependent for its successful functioning on a good supply of electric energy, the link between the source and the consumer, the distribution system, assumes an ever more critical role. It is not only called upon to deliver ever greater quantities of electric energy, but the demand for ever higher standards of quality imposes on it requirements that become ever more stringent. Higher quality is not limited to better regulation of voltage, to narrower bands of almost flickerless voltage variations. Though not closely associated with electrical distribution, a very high degree of maintaining alternating current frequencies has been sought.
The awareness of faults and other contingencies, their identification and location, and the means of service restoration are important factors involved. These may be accomplished by the installation of additional devices operating automatically or manually. These objectives may also be affected by such “nonrelated” items as better-trained personnel; improved transportation and communication facilities, including tools and equipment; quicker access to records, including use of computers; adequate stocks of materials; liaison with other sources of assistance; preventive maintenance programs; and various continually updated procedures for handling a variety of contingencies.
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