The Energy Systems Research Center
The ESRC is one of the largest university research centers focused on electric power systems in the United States, with its origin dating back to 1968. In addition to working with the regular undergraduate program in the Department of Electrical Engineering at The University of Texas at Arlington (UTA), the ESRC also actively participates in research programs through UTA's Research and Graduate School and relevant continuing education courses both on and off campus.
The ESRC has a unique power system simulation laboratory that has a physical-based scaled-down electrical power system with generation, transmission, and distribution systems. This simulation laboratory has a complete real-time SCADA system and a state-of-the-art energy management system as well as microprocessor based protective relay systems. It has been used by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The laboratory facility has also been used for automated protective relay testing. Such testing has proven beneficial to several companies for evaluating new microprocessor based relays. The ESRC has hosted three Relay Testing Workshops that included representation from all of the important relay manufacturers in the world. The ESRC has developed a Blackstart Simulation Laboratory to train power system dispatchers and power plant operators. The ESRC has an active research program sponsored mostly by the utility industry worldwide. Researchers at the ESRC have developed very close relationships with companies from Mexico, Saudi Arabia, China, Taiwan, South American Countries, Korea, Japan, African Countries, Russia, and European Countries for the purpose of training and research. In 1998, the ESRC conducted a significant amount of research for the Synchronous Interconnection Committee, an idea originating from the Public Utility Commission of Texas. The purpose of the SIC was to study the technical feasibility for interconnecting ERCOT with the Southwest Power Pool.
The ESRC enjoys an international reputation and its founder and former director, Dr. Mo-Shing Chen, is an internationally recognized expert in power systems. Electrical engineering Professor Wei-Jen Lee has replaced Chen as ESRC director in September 2003. Since 1971, over one hundred graduate students completed their Ph.D. degree. The ESRC has the distinction of graduating the first Ph.D. from UTA in 1971. Many of these graduates have distinguished themselves in academia and industry. The number of graduate students completing the MSEE degree with an emphasis in power systems is over two hundred. For thirty-six years, ESRC has conducted the most successful and longest running annual two-week short course for engineers in the power systems industry. Over fifteen hundred professionals representing approximately four hundred companies worldwide have attended. An IEEE survey named ESRC as one of the top ten universities in power education according to IEEE Spectrum in Dec 1986.
It is important to mention a number of significant companies located worldwide with which the ESRC has conducted intensive research activity. They include the Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. (Con-Ed), TXU, Reliant Energy - HL&P, Taiwan Power Company (Taiwan), Saudi Electricity Company (Saudi Arabia), Central Research Institute of the Electric Power Industry (CRIEPI-Japan), Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI-USA), and Electric Power Research Institute of China.
Some of the recent research activity includes: SIC for PUCT (previously mentioned), Arcing Fault Detection for Con-Ed, Very Short Term Load Forecasting for TXU, Security Analysis for Tai Power, IPP-Utility Interconnection Study for Formosa Plastics Co., Blackstart Training Simulator for TXU (previously mentioned), and Neural Network Based price forecasting for Reliant Energy - HL&P.
For the past 30 years, the Power Engineering Society (PES) of the IEEE has rated ESRC as one of the best programs in power systems in the United States. For example, in 1986 the PES conducted a survey of U.S. universities to determine the top twenty-five power programs. The resulting survey was divided into three categories: top ten, middle ten, and bottom five. The universities were not ranked within categories but simply listed in alphabetic order. The ESRC was recognized as being in the top ten in the nation, ahead of Auburn Univ., Univ. of California at Berkeley, MIT, Michigan Tech. Univ., Univ. of Minnesota, Univ. of Missouri - Rolla, New Mexico State Univ., Texas A&M Univ., Virginia Polytechnic Inst. & State Univ., Univ. of Washington (middle group of ten), Arizona State Univ., California Polytechnic State Univ. - San Luis Obispo, Univ. of Florida, Univ. of Missouri - Columbia, and the Univ. of Texas at Austin (last group of five). There are other IEEE groups that have rated the ESRC as the one of the best both nationally and internationally.
The ESRC hosted the first International Symposium on World Energy in September 1998. The last Symposium was held in October 2000, in Monterrey, Mexico. The ESRC played an important role together with the hosts from Mexico. The theme of this symposium focused on potential interconnections with Mexico.