Course EE 379K/ EE 394V

Smart Grids

New Course for Spring 2017

Unique Number 16725/16935

Meeting time and place: 2:00pm to 3:15pm, PAR1

Ross Baldick
Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering 
UT Administration Building UTA 7.234 
The University of Texas at Austin

Tel: (512) 471-5879 

Office hours: 3:30pm to 4:45pm, AHG116.

Please email me if you want to see me outside of these office hours.

Course description:

This course is an introduction to the fundamentals of smart electric power grids, including definition, design criteria, and technology. Smart grid can be defined as the application of information processing and communications to the power grid. The course will motivate development of the smart grid, evaluating options for adding sensing/communications/computation/intelligence/control/automation to various part of the electricity system. Topics include:

The course will be at the graduate/senior undergraduate level and will assume technical knowledge of power systems as a pre-requisite. Course slides will be available from the links below as they become available. These slides will be prepared by industry professionals, who will present on the following dates:

1/17, Ross Baldick, introduction to Smart Grids course, 1 lecture.

1/19, 1/24, 1/26, 2/7, Andres Carvallo, building a smart grid architecture_1, architecture_2, architecture_3, architecture_4, 4 lectures.

2/2, Dave Maggio, How smart are we today: An overview of current wholesale market and grid operations, 1 lecture.

1/31, Brad Bell, integrating wind and solar generation to meet America's environmental regulations, 1 lecture. Files to download for homework: 13BusSystem_Basecase.PWB; 13BusSystem_Basecase.pwd; PowerWorld tutorial; PowerWorld SCOPF tutorial.

2/9, Mike Legatt, the human factor, 1 lecture.

2/14, Ingmar Sterzing, smart grid ecosystem analysis, 1 lecture. File to download for homework: Powerwall.

2/16, Scott Hinson, advanced distributed power systems hardware, 1 lecture.

2/21, "Catch up" and mid-term I review.

2/23, Mid-term I, in class.

2/28, Jon Pettit, advanced meter platforms, 1 lecture.

3/2, NDR Nuthalapati, smart distribution application functions, 1 lecture. 

3/7, Bill Muston, energy storage as key element in smart grids, 1 lecture.

3/9, Scott Hinson, Residential power quality, 1 lecture.

3/14, 3/16, Spring break.

3/21, "Catch-up" and mid-term II review.

3/23, Mid-term II, in class.

3/28, Paul Wattles, the retail perspective, 1 lecture.

3/30, Ingmar Sterzing, rates and pricing, 1 lecture.

4/4, Brewster McCracken, residential use of electricity and gas, 1 lecture.

4/6, Ingmar Sterzing, distributed solar generation,  1 lecture.

4/11, Mike Legatt, electric vehicles and the grid, 1 lecture.

4/13, Roger Duncan, smart grid: a contrarian view, 1 lecture.

4/18, graduate student presentations.

4/20, Austin Electricity Conference.

4/25, 4/27, graduate student presentations.

5/2, "Catch-up," mid-term III review, course evaluation.

5/4, Mid-term III, in class.

The catch-up and review classes on 2/21, 3/21, and 5/2 will provide an opportunity to finish any material that was not completely covered in the earlier lectures as well as provide preparation for the mid-terms. Towards the end of the semester, each graduate student will be required to make a 10 minute presentation summarizing a journal or conference paper on smart grid. A suitable source for papers is IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid.


Upper-division standing, and Electrical Engineering 369 or 368L with a grade of at least C, or graduate standing.     


I expect that you will spend five to seven hours on average per week outside of class on this course to review the class material, and work on homeworks, which will be assigned approximately every week, except during the week of the midterm.

I expect you to have read over lecture materials ahead of class so that class time is used efficiently to explain concepts.

Please come to office hours with prepared questions.

I do not take attendance and you are free to attend or not attend class as you choose.  However, if you come to class, please be prompt.  Please be seated in class by the time the start-of-class bell rings.  If a homework is due, please put it on the desk in the classroom prior to the start-of-class bell.

Expectations for graduate students

In addition to the mid-terms and homeworks assigned for all students, each graduate student must make a 10 minute presentation to the class during the last three weeks of the semester that summarizes and presents a journal or conference paper that is in the area of smart grid. Suitable journals include IEEE Transactions on Smart Grid.

Additional course resources:

You may also find the following books helpful as an additional resources:

Homework policy:

Homeworks will be assigned approximately once per week, except during the weeks of the mid-terms.  Each student must turn in their own work, but I encourage students to discuss difficult problems with me during office hours or with other students.  You are expected to make an honest, independent attempt to solve and turn in your answers to each homework question.  

Homeworks will be due in at the beginning of class on the due days assigned.  Homeworks turned in after the due time and date are considered late. 

All homeworks must be turned in by the last day of the semester to pass the course.   Late homeworks will be awarded a grade of zero unless permission for late submission is sought and given in advance of the due date.

Quiz and exam policy:

There will be three mid-terms and no final in this class. Each mid-term will be approximately the same length and cover approximately one-third of the semesterís material. Date and locations for mid-terms:

No make-up exams will be given.  Excused absence from a mid-term exam must be obtained in advance.  In this case, the course grade will be based on the homework and mid-term exams.  Unexcused absences from a mid-term or final will result in a grade of zero for that exam.  Excused absences from exams will be made only in extreme circumstance (serious illness, death in the immediate family, etc).  Requests for excused absences should be made in advance in writing and must be supported by appropriate documentation.

Grading policy:

For undergraduate students, a final score will be calculated based on:

For graduate students, a final score will be calculated based on:

The final score will be used to establish the ranking for grades. The B to A cutoff will be at approximately 90% or more. The C to B cutoff will be at approximately 80% or more.

Homework 1:

Complete by the beginning of class on Thursday, January 26.

a) Without looking at a dictionary or a search engine, define what you would mean by "self-healing." You might use an example in terms of healing of a cut or wound, but try to make the definition generic.

b) Use a search engine to obtain a definition of "self-healing grid." Avoid circular or self-referential definitions such as "a self-healing grid is a grid that can heal itself." Define specifically what is meant by the webpages that refer to self-healing grid.

c) Compare the two meanings of self-healing. Is the definition of self-healing grid a reasonable one, given your prior understanding (as described in part a)) of what it generically means to be self-healing.

d) Find as many definitions as you can of: (i)"smart grid," (ii) "microgrid," (iii) digital grid."

Academic dishonesty and policies on cheating:

Faculty in the ECE Department are committed to detecting and punishing all instances of academic dishonesty and will pursue cases of academic dishonesty in accordance with university policy.  Academic dishonesty, in all its forms, is a blight on our entire academic community.  All parties in our community – professors, staff, and students – are responsible for creating an environment that educates outstanding engineers, and this goal entails excellence in technical skills as well as ethical integrity.  Industry wants engineers who are competent and fully trustworthy, and both qualities must be developed day-by-day throughout an entire lifetime.  

Details about what constitutes academic dishonesty can be found at the following URL: UT Dean of Students Office (

All cheating will be reported directly to the college/university. Unless explicitly indicated in an assignment, you must do your homeworks, projects, and exams individually.  You are welcome and encouraged to discuss material with your colleagues, when and where it is appropriate,  but copying, stealing papers, etc. are considered dishonest and will be prosecuted.

Allegations of Scholastic Dishonesty will be dealt with according to the procedures outlined in Appendix C, Chapter 11, of the General Information Bulletin,

The University of Texas at Austin provides, upon request, appropriate academic adjustments for qualified students with disabilities. For more information, contact the Office of the Dean of Students at 471-6259, 471-4241 TDD, or the College of Engineering Director of Students with Disabilities, 471-4321.

Classroom evacuation for students:

All occupants of university buildings are required to evacuate a building when a fire alarm and/or an official announcement is made indicating a potentially dangerous situation within the building. Familiarize yourself with all exit doors of each classroom and building you may occupy. Remember that the nearest exit door may not be the one you used when entering the building. If you require assistance in evacuation, inform your instructor in writing during the first week of class. For evacuation in your classroom or building:

1. Follow the instructions of faculty and teaching staff.

2. Exit in an orderly fashion and assemble outside.

3. Do not re-enter a building unless given instructions by emergency personnel.