T&D World Magazine

Nick Miller: Industrious Instructor

Nick Miller has been involved in everything from researching the prevention of voltage collapse in Tokyo to his current favored topic, wind power. Miller, director for GE Energy, teaches Wind Power Fundamentals at the GE Energy Learning Center in Schenectady, New York. He brings his extensive experience as an engineer at GE to his classes. (See Miller’s own description of a few highlights from his history at GE below.)

Miller will be presenting Wind Power Fundamentals on Dec. 9-11 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The course covers the engineering and application of the components of a wind power system as well as systems engineering for the planning and design of reliable and cost-effective wind power plants. Participants will learn about the behavior and economics of power systems with substantial amounts of wind generation.

Miller’s experience outside of the classroom enables him to be an expert instructor. He has his hands in many projects and developments even now. He is currently leading analytical developments for integration of GE Wind Turbine-Generators into power systems. Recently, he was a principal contributor to the landmark New York State Wind study, and the California Intermittency Analysis Project. He is currently a principal on the U.S. DOE Western Wind and Solar Integration Study, as well as multiple wind and solar related projects in Hawaii.

Miller was a principal contributor to the landmark New York State Wind study, and the California Intermittency Analysis Project. He is actively involved in the development of new techniques for the analysis and control of transient, dynamic, and voltage stability of very large power systems. He led the development of advanced network solution and component modeling techniques and had directed system reliability, voltage stability, reactive compensation, FACTS device application and transmission planning studies for a number of utilities. He has led research projects in the use of artificial intelligence in the operation and protection of power systems; and he published new developments on the use of GTO-based static compensation for improvement of power system performance.

Miller describes here his journey at GE and how he has been drawn into several research projects in the power engineering industry, including SVCs and the one in Tokyo:

“There was a certain genetic, or familial, inevitability about me becoming a power engineer. My father, Edward Miller, is an internationally known expert on large steam turbine thermal design and my father-n-law is Dr. Allan Greenwood, emeritus Philip Sporn Professor of Electric Power Engineering at Rensselaer and author of the textbook, Electrical Transients in Electric Power Systems – the nemesis of many a struggling power engineering student.

"When I joined the then GE Electric Utility Systems Engineering group in 1980, it already had about 75 years of illustrious history, having been the professional home of the likes of Charlie Concordia, Edith Clarke, Bill Marsh and Leon Kirkmeyer. Being hired was like getting admitted the most exclusive of clubs…for power nerds, of course, but exclusive nevertheless.

"As the young guy, I quickly gravitated to analysis of bulk power system problems. The industry was rapidly ascending the learning curve for use of series compensation, HVDC and power electronics devices like SVCs, for increasing power transfer over long distances. My mentor, Jim Tice, dragged me all across North America, presenting clever schemes we’d developed for squeezing extra power across existing transmission lines.

"That expertise stood me in good stead to participate in a sequence of large research projects with Tokyo Electric Power Company. Having research funded by the proud TEPCO, largest investor owned utility in the world, was a point of pride. To say that the Tokyo blackout of July 23, 1987 was distressing to the Japanese is an understatement. The event turned out to be something of a milestone. I spent a much of the following decade doing research and developing analytical techniques and algorithms for the understanding and prevention of voltage collapse.

"GE’s re-entry into the wind power business in 2002 was another milestone. It became immediately apparent that there was a pressing need in the industry for better models and better understanding of the impacts of large amounts of wind generation on the planning and operation of power systems. Five years, dozens of publications and numerous patent disclosures, later, the topic continues to fascinate. Audiences of power engineers from Poland to Vietnam to Vancouver each have their own take on the value and consequences of wind generation on their particular power grids.

"As an avid skier and scuba diver, escape from power engineering is usually easy…except that those nifty small power plants on the islands in the Caribbean often need to be checked out. Not surprisingly, that results in rolled eyes and long suffering sighs from my wife and daughter.”

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