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Elegantly Matching Demand to Generation

The appeal of transactive energy

Years ago, when I first heard those words, like most people I was intrigued, but unsure of what they actually meant.  So I started with the dictionary and quickly found that “transactive” wasn’t a word.

And that led me to the GridWise Architecture Council.

The work of the council contemplated a world where technological advances could allow communication and computing technology supported operational models that enable balancing the variability of electrical demand and generation at a local level using techniques based upon financial markets.  If the technological advances occurred, there would be impacts on the nearly century of commercial and policy development that to date have shaped the electric industry.

David Forfia


To expand on this initial work, the council convened four workshops from 2011 through 2014 and organized two international conferences on transactive energy to gather input as they produced the Transactive Energy Framework, a document that defines the attributes, elements and principles of transactive energy. 

The framework identified the impacts on policy and market design, the business models and means of providing deriving value from them and the on the cyber and physical infrastructure needing to be deploy to support transactive energy.

The world contemplated in the council’s early transactive energy work has become reality in the four years that I have been a member.  The discussion has changed to applying the principles and techniques of transactive energy to meet diverse challenges. Reliability is still paramount, but consumer expectations for personalized product offerings have been heightened, policy and economic drivers are changing the preferred types of generation and the cost of local generation is competitive with grid generation.

The industry conversation on transactive techniques has also changed, with possibilities for using the principles to meet these same needs.  The framework of transactive energy is being considered in the New York Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, as a means to meet the renewable portfolio standard targets in California and to integrate distribution level resources with the wholesale and retail power markets in many utilities.

While transactive energy is being considered within each of these initiatives, more work is needed.  A well-designed system is needed that considers the implementation from policy through to the enabling technology.

With that understanding, the council in partnership with SmartGrid Northwest has built the agenda for the third International Conference and Workshop on Transactive Energy to focus specifically on the development of Transactive Energy Systems. 

The conference, in Portland May 17-19, has been designed to focus on the end-to-end systems needed to harness flexibility in an evolving power industry.  The conference is expected to draw over 200 attendees including regulators, policy makers, utility managers, system implementers, researchers and academics.  

There will be broad interchange of ideas to facilitate the further development of transactive energy methods and systems within the electric power, energy management and related communities. 

David Forfia is Electric Reliability Council of Texas director, enterprise architecture and IT transformation and chairman of the GridWise Architecture Council.

The Energy Times is the media partner for the upcoming May 17-19 Transactive Energy Systems conference in Portland. Readers of The Energy Times are entitled to a 20 percent registration discount by entering code "WQNASX."

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