Spring 2021 General Meeting


March 25th – 26th, 2021

The Center for Advanced Power Engineering and Research (CAPER) is a collaboration among three universities and industry members focusing on research and educational needs in the electric power industry in the southeast region of the U.S.  CAPER holds two General Meetings each year, spring and fall, each hosted by a member University.  In attendance are CAPER researchers and students along with industry and government representatives to present current industry topics, update sponsored projects and take part in discussions about the Center’s research and education activities.

We wish to thank Dr. Mesut Baran, CAPER Center Co-Director at NC State University, for hosting this virtual meeting.  Special thanks go to Shannon Jenkins for all the many arrangements that were required for this meeting.  We also wish to thank our Industry Members, Faculty and Students for participating in the Tutorial and General Meeting.


The meeting took place virtually via Zoom invitation.

Tutorial:  52 – (13 Industry, 11 Faculty and 28 Students)
General Meeting:  96 – (28 Industry, 17 Faculty and 51 Students)


Thursday March 25th, 2021 Tutorial – Introduction to Data Analytics

Dr. Wenyuan Tang, professor at NC State University, presented a three-hour tutorial titled Introduction to Data Analytics”.  The tutorial covered the basics of probability and statistics and its many applications in industry.  Dr. Tang demonstrated that it is not just data alone, but it is data analytics that provides the ability to forecast and predict the future.

General Meeting:

The meeting started at 1:00 pm with a CAPER welcome introduction and sharing of “In the News” by CAPER Steering Committee Chair, Steven Whisenant.

Plenary Session – Data Analytics – Societal and Utility Applications led by Dr. Mesut Baran, CAPER Center Co-Director at NC State University

Mr. Tim Fairchild of SAS began the session discussing how data analytics is transforming societal interactions.  It all starts with data but then there is modeling, analyzing and making decisions.  Tim stated however, that data without analytics is value not yet realized.”  Data and analytics together are the key.  All the data in the world does not do you any good unless you have analytics.  Many industries are using data analytics and machine-learning to better understand what customers value and thus, find better ways to serve, retain as acquire customers.  Life is about optimization and data analytics is helping us do that.

John Pressley with Duke Energy shared ways his company is already using data analytics to provide more reliable and cost-effective electrical service to customers.  Applications are currently in the areas of: Distribution Grid Health, Vegetation Management, Carbon Calculations and Drone Inspections of facilities.  Data analytics is being used to determine performance of solar sites and locate inactive solar panels.


Session I – Customer Driven Analytics and Utility Applications led by Dr. Michael Mazzola, CAPER Center Director

Professor Ning Lu with NC State University opened the session with a presentation on “Meta-learning Based Distribution System Load Forecasting Model Selection Methods”. The objective of this project is to develop a Photovoltaic Analysis and Response Support (PARS) platform that provides real-time situational awareness and optimal response plan selection.  The three main functions are Load forecasting, PV forecasting and Anomaly detection.  A data driven PV Forecasting Tool can be used to forecast solar generation in the next 24 -72 hours with hourly granularity or next 1 – 3 hours with 5-minute granularity.  Dr. Yiyan Li then assisted in demonstrating how a meta-learning-based load forecasting tool could answer the request “Please forecast the load of the building in the next 12 hours with 15-minute granularity.

Next, PJ Rehm with ElectriCities shared how municipalities are using AMI Based Customer Load Analysis to profile a customer’s electric usage and compare it to their peers.

Qiuhua Huang with PNNL closed the session by sharing that PNNL has a long history in machine-learning and they are developing ways to use machine-learning in grid operations and control.


Session II – CAPER Sponsored Sr. Design Projects led by Steve Whisenant, Chair CAPER Steering Committee

Each year, CAPER sponsors a Senior Design Team at each of its three Universities. Financial support is provided by the Duke Foundation and an Industry Advisor is assigned to mentor and guide each team.  At this meeting, our three teams reported on the progress and plans for completion of their projects.


Day Two:

The meeting started at 8:30 am with highlights of day one and objectives for the day by CAPER Steering Committee Chair, Steven Whisenant.

Session III – Data Analytic Tools Used to Mine Transmission and Distribution Data led by Dr. David Lubkeman, NC State University

To begin the session, Guohui Yuan with DOE EERE presented on the Application of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence in Solar Grid Integration.”  The DOE is leveraging artificial intelligence and machine-leaning in solar generation and storage to maximize energy available, contribute to reliability and achieve a 100% “green grid.”

Next, Naumaan Nayyar with Amazon shared the many tools available through the cloud for use in data science.  The cloud offers a huge storage area for ‘Big Data.”  It offers an alternative where models and analysis can overwhelm local resources.  It also offers a place for more collaboration and sharing of models and simulations.  The cloud can reduce time and cost to experiment by providing a place for building highly sophisticated models on very large data sets.

Arnie DeCastro with SAS presented on “Analytics Technologies for the Digital Utility”. Analytics is descriptive, predictive and prescriptive.  Operations analytics can result in better stability, security, reliability and resilience of the grid.  Analytics can predict equipment failures and gas turbine emissions.  It can be used in energy forecasting, solar forecasting, customer analytics which all lead to optimization of resources in a secure and sustainable fashion.

Sree Rajagopalan with Murano closed the session with a presentation titled “Shipyards and Grids Powered by Digital Twin.”  The digital twin is a powerful tool that can be used to evaluate system events and build in safety measures before they occur.  Mr. Murano discussed the recent events that led to the Texas Blackout in February.  The digital twin is a powerful tool that can be used to analyze and evaluate the performance of the grid against large scale disruptive events.


Session IV – CAPER Project Updates led by Dr. Michael Mazzola, CAPER Center Director


Base Projects:
PD-04: Development and Demonstration for a Power Electronics Assisted Distribution Voltage Regulator – Tiefu Zhao
DM-02: Identification and Mitigation of Coordinated Attacks on Distributed Energy Management – Badrul Chowdhury
PG-01: Distributed Energy Storage and EV Holding Capacity Vale Proposition Development – Johan Enslin
PG-02: Incorporating EV and EV Charging Stations into Integrated Resource Planning – Linquan Bai
PU-01: Comparative Power Flow Analysis and Power Flow Quality Criteria – Valentina Cecchi
EHP-08-PU: Comparative Power Flow – Valentina Cecchi
Enhancement Projects:
EHP-07-PG: Integrated T&D Model – David Lubkeman


Steven Whisenant closed the Spring General Meeting with an update on the 2021 Research Solicitation.  Seven proposals have been submitted which were reviewed and evaluated by the Industry Advisory Board in its Closed Meeting.

The next meeting will be hosted by UNC Charlotte and is scheduled for November 10th -11th, 2021.  The theme will be “Power System Modeling in Support of a Southeast Power Exchange Market (SEEM)”.

CLOSED MEETING – IAB Members Meeting – Open to all attendees of companies that are Industry Members of CAPER.

The IAB heard a presentation on each of the seven proposals and prepared their recommendations to the Steering Committee.

Presentations and Project Updates can be found by visiting www.caper-usa.com in the Members Only section of the website.