Graduate student receives best paper award at NAPS

Photo of Omar UrquidezOmar Urquidez (right), graduate student in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University, received a Best Paper Award at the 2012 North American Power Symposium (NAPS) in Champaign, Illinois.

Urquidez won second prize for his paper and presentation, “Targeted Conversion of AC lines to DC lines for Improved Power System Dispatch.” His advisor is Dr. Le Xie, an assistant professor and co-author of the paper.

In his paper the concept of targeted conversion of AC lines to DC lines is proposed for improved security constrained economic dispatch by incorporating the converted line into the formulation to improve flow pattern control and relieve flow constraints on both the converted line and the remaining AC system. The introduction of this additional control variable significantly decreases the dispatch cost through congestion relief.

Wind curtailment due to transmission congestion, is also shown to be significantly relieved. The technical feasibility of the implementation, combined with the economic benefits, suggests that targeted conversion of AC lines to DC lines is a promising approach to best utilizing the transmission grid for maximized social welfare. Illustrative examples on a 24-bus system demonstrate the technical feasibility and economic benefits for renewable energy resources by use of the proposed conversion.

Urquidez was born in Odessa, Texas, and grew up in Wichita Falls, Texas. He received his B.A. in mechanical engineering in 2005 from Harvard University. After graduation he worked as an engineer in Houston with duties ranging from industrial wind farm integration to energy marketing.

In June 2010, Urquidez returned to school to complete his Ph.D. in electrical engineering at Texas A&M.  

His research interests include power system economics, renewable integration, smart grid applications to transmission systems and power system reliability. He also is a founding member of the Texas A&M Energy Club.

Xie joined the department in January 2010. He received his B.E. in electrical engineering in 2004 from Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, his M.Sc. in engineering sciences from Harvard University in 2005 and his Ph.D. from the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Carnegie Mellon University in 2009. His research interest includes modeling and control of large-scale power systems with renewable energy resources and electricity markets. Xie received the NSF CAREER award and the Oak Ridge Associated Universities (ORAU) Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Award in 2012. He also served as the founding faculty advisor for the Texas A&M Energy Club.

NAPS has been held every year at a different university in North America since 1969 and provides an open forum for participants from academia and industry to exchange innovative ideas and solutions. NAPS continues the long held tradition of encouraging student-presented papers and recognizing student best efforts by awards to be presented at the end of each symposium. NAPS welcomes papers on analytical, computational, and experimental studies aimed at solving problems related to operation, control, monitoring, protection, reliability as well as economics of power and energy systems and components.

Texas A&M has always been a strong participant at NAPS conferences. In 2001, Dr. Karen Butler-Perry was the chairperson of NAPS when Texas A&M hosted the 33rd NAPS conference in College Station. Texas A&M sends several graduate students every year to present work going on at the university. This year six students presented work, including Urquidez.