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Zonal And Regional Load Forecasting In The New England Wholesale Electricity Market: A Semiparametric Regression Approach

Power system planning, reliability analysis and economically efficient capacity scheduling all rely heavily on electricity demand forecasting models. In the context of a deregulated wholesale electricity market, using scheduling a region’s bulk electricity generation is inherently linked to future values of demand. Predictive models are used by municipalities and suppliers to bid into the day-ahead market and by utilities in order to arrange contractual interchanges among neighboring utilities. These numerical predictions are therefore pervasive in the energy industry. This research seeks to develop a regression-based forecasting model. Specifically, electricity demand is modeled as a function of calendar effects, lagged demand effects, weather effects, and a stochastic disturbance. Variables such as temperature, wind speed, cloud cover and humidity are known to be among the strongest predictors of electricity demand and as such are used as model inputs. It is well known, however, that the relationship between demand and weather can be highly nonlinear. Rather than assuming a linear functional form, the structural change in these relationships is explored. Those variables that indicate a nonlinear relationship with demand are accommodated with penalized splines in a semiparametric regression framework. The equivalence between penalized splines and the special case of a mixed model formulation allows for model estimation with currently available statistical packages such as R, STATA and SAS. Historical data are available for the entire New England region as well as for the smaller zones that collectively make up the regional grid. As such, a secondary research objective of this thesis is to explore whether or not an aggregation of zonal forecasts might perform better than those produced from a single regional model. Prior to this research, neither the applicability of a semiparametric regression-based approach towards load forecasting nor the potential improvement in forecasting performance resulting from zonal load forecasting has been investigated for the New England wholesale electricity market.