Undergrad Research Project - An improved method to assess the value of assuring some electric service in the event of major outages

Spring 2017

Selin Sirinterlikci
Granger Morgan
Project description

Residents in developed economies depend heavily on services provided by electricity. Most power outages are local, however, large outages of long duration do occur. While many critical facilities have backup power, any large grid outage of long duration would impose considerable private and social costs. However, under some circumstances it may be possible to us "smart" distribution system technology to provide at least limited service when large blackouts occur (Narayanan and Morgan, 2012). A key input to assessing whether such incremental investments can be justified is obtaining robust estimates of the cost of outages. Previously, we developed and demonstrated a set of improved methods to assess informed judgments by residential customers, the costs of which mostly arise from intangible sources and are thus more difficult to quantify (Baik et al.,2016a and 2016b).

To support the continuation of this work, the student will work with EPP PhD student Sunhee Baik and Professors Granger Morgan (ECE/EPP) and Alex Davis (EPP) to develop a web-based interactive survey platform that can be used to explore residential customers’ valuations from a variety of regions under a variety of outage scenarios. During the first stage of the project, the student will implement the core survey components, including the electric appliance usage simulator and the method to assess the value of a hypothetical backup service with reduced bias. These functions are not available in conventional survey platforms. Next, the student will incorporate the components to build a full interactive survey that will allow users to walk through the survey process and store the response into a database for future analysis. Finally, the student will develop a management platform to allow researchers to easily manage and customize the survey to conduct multiple iterations of the survey to different respondents. There may also be an opportunity for the student to assist in co-authoring a paper on the results. Skills required include knowledge of both front-end and back-end web frameworks and interpersonal communication skills including the ability to communicate highly technical concepts in clear, simple terms to non-technical researchers and a designer working on this project.

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