Introduction to Power Systems Before Smart Grid

This ‘telephone’ has too many shortcomings to be seriously considered as a means of communication. The device is inherently of no value to us.

—Western Union internal memo, 1876

Those who say it cannot be done should not interfere with those of us who are doing it.

—S. Hickman

1.1 Overview

Power systems and communications are close cousins. This may not be apparent at first, but that is how we will generally view these twin subtopics of electrical engineering. Communications and power systems are the same field with a different emphasis. Both transmit power. Communications seek to minimize power and maximize information content. Power systems seek to maximize power and minimize information content. It is particularly interesting to see what happens when these fields physically come together in technologies such as a power line carrier and wireless power transmission. In a power line carrier, communication attempts to become physically similar to power, following the same conductive path. In wireless power transmission, power seeks to become physically similar to wireless communication, propagating through space similar to wireless communication. It is at these intersections of communication and power systems that the differences between the two fields comes into sharpest contrast. The initial hyperbole regarding the fundamental shift in power systems toward what is being labeled as the “smart grid” will have died down or disappeared ...

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