/ Smart Grid Center > Primer on the Planning and Operation of Large-Scale Electric Grids

Primer on the Planning and Operation of Large-Scale Electric Grids

Dates and Duration: Dates will be announced later.

Course Director: Dr. Tom Overbye


Electricity is the lifeblood of our modern society, and for most this electricity is supplied by large-scale, interconnected electric grids.  Engineered as the ultimate in plug-and-play convenience, the wall outlet is actually the gateway to the world’s largest and most complex machine.  The goal of this course is to provide a comprehensive introduction for those without an in-depth electric power engineering background on how such electric grids are designed and operated, and on how they are likely to change in the future.  The electric grid of the past, which was primarily power by large-scale fossil-fuel generators, is no longer a reality and the current system is rapidly changing.  The integration of vast amounts of renewable generation resources along with the addition of new technologies such as energy storage and large amounts of digital technology supporting its design and operation, also known as the smart grid, are presenting many new opportunities and challenges.  This course is focused on providing a non-technical introduction for those who need to understand the design and operation of electric grids.

The course philosophy is to provide in-depth coverage of the topics, but to do so using a practical, hands-on approach with abundant examples.  Throughout the course concepts will be illustrated using common industrial analysis and simulation tools including PowerWorld Simulator.  Collectively the four course instructors have wide experience in this area doing electric power system studies, software tool development, research and engineering education (Hours: CEU 2.1, PDH 21).

Who Should Attend

The course is designed to provide introductory coverage of the design and operation of large-scale electric grids for people without an electric power engineering background.  It is ideally suited for those who work in areas associated with the electric grid and need to better understand electric power engineering but don’t possess a technical degree.  Hence the course is appropriate for non-technical professionals at electric utilities and other companies in the electric power industry as well as for staff at regulatory agencies, government officials, developers, investment bankers, etc.  This short course is particularly useful for those who manage electric power engineers, for new engineers from other disciplines, for academics wishing to gain practical knowledge in this important area, and for graduate students interested in careers in the power industry.


  • Introduction and history of the electric grid
  • Components of the electric grid
  • Modeling electric grids at the transmission level
  • Modeling electric grids at the distribution level
  • Overview of how electric grids are operated and planned
  • Common engineering analysis tools
  • Interconnected grid simulations
  • Electricity markets
  • Electric grid protection
  • Policy and regulator issues
  • The role of NERC and regional committees
  • Electric grid dynamics
  • Impacts of renewable resources and energy storage on the grid
  • Electric grid cyber security
  • Improving electric grid resiliency
  • Emerging technologies and their potential impact
  • SmartGrid and Grid Modernization


Tom Overbye is a TEES Eminent Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University (TAMU).  He received his BS, MS, and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  Before starting his academic career he was employed with Madison Gas and Electric Company, working in their planning and operations departments.  He is the original developer of PowerWorld Simulator (a widely used power system planning tool), a co-founder of PowerWorld Corporation, and an author of a widely used Power System Analysis and Design book.  He is a recipient of the IEEE Power and Energy Society Outstanding Power Engineering Educator Award, an EEE Fellow, a member of the US National Academy of Engineering, and was responsible for the initial development of dynamics analysis in PowerWorld Simulator.

Miroslav Begovic Dr. Miroslav M. Begovic is Carolyn S. & Tommie E. Lohman ’59 Professor and Head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M University. He is also Director of Division of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station (TEES), and has served as IEEE Power and Energy Society President (2014-2015) and member and Chair of its Governing Board (2009-2017), as well as Chair of the Emerging Technologies Coordinating Committee and IEEE PES Power Systems Relaying Committee for over 20 years. Previously, Prof. Begovic served as Professor and Chair of the Electrical Energy Technical Interest Group at Georgia Institute of Technology and is an affiliated faculty member of the Brooks Byers Institute for Sustainable Systems and the University of Excellence on Photovoltaic Research. His research interests lie in wide area monitoring, protection and emergency control using smart grid apparatus; integration of renewable generation into distribution and transmission networks; sustainable and resilient energy infrastructures; and managing large assets in energy infrastructure. He has participated in several collaborative research projects for energy industry, the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy, as well as Georgia Tech NEETRAC, an industry consortium with over 40 members. Begovic is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers’ (IEEE) Power and Energy (PES), Computer, and Circuits and Systems Societies. He is also a Fellow of IEEE, an IEEE PES Distinguished Lecturer. Begovic has published over 200 journal and conference papers and has presented nearly 100 keynote speeches, invited talks and presentations.

Don Morrow is Founder and Partner at Grid Focus LLC, a professional services company focused on the electric utility industry.  Don has worked exclusively in the energy industry and brings a unique combination of technical knowledge and business strategy experience.  Before moving into consulting, Don spent 26 years working at electric utilities, including serving as Director of Operations and Director of Planning at American Transmission Company.  As a consultant, Don has advised clients in operations, system planning, renewable integration, grid resiliency, NERC compliance, utility business models, organizational design, technology strategy and emerging technology utilization. He has led several major transmission studies focused on increasing access to renewable energy including the EHV Overlay study for SPP, the SMARTransmisison Study for a consortium of 8 utilities in the upper Midwest and market assessment studies for Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.  Don received his BSEE and MBA from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Tracy Rolstad is the Technical Director for Power Systems Consulting (North America). PSC is a global company that provides specialized consulting services to the energy industry.  He received his BSEE from the University of Idaho and a graduate diploma from the Naval War College (College of Naval Command and Staff).  He started his career in power systems as a Reactor Operator and Engineering Watch Supervisor in the United States Navy (onboard USS Hawkbill) serving 22 years in the Navy and Navy Reserve.  His experience in power system planning and modeling began at the Joint Warfare Analysis Center and then developed and evolved at the Bonneville Power Administration (technical operations), as a Principal Engineer at Utility System Efficiencies, and as a Consulting Engineer at Avista Utilities.  Tracy serves as the Data Subcommittee Chair at the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC). He previously served as the WECC Technical Studies Subcommittee Chair, Vice-Chair, and Secretary.  Additionally, he served as the WECC RAS and Relay Workgroup Chair addressing modeling issues related to 2011 AZ to CA outage.  He is a member of the IEEE and the VFW.


Location: Texas A&M Center for Infrastructure Renewal (CIR), 1041 RELLIS Parkway, Bryan TX
Directions & map: CIR Directions

Air Transportation:
Direct flights available at the Texas A&M Easterwood Airport (CLL) from Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) on American and Houston (IAH) on United.
Other airports within driving distance: Austin (AUS) and Houston (IAH), both about two hours away
May rent a car or use shuttle service: Airport Ground Shuttle 

Cost: $1600

For More Information

  • For more information about this course, or other upcoming Texas A&M electric power short courses contact Tom Overbye at overbye@tamu.edu