To find out more about The FSU Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability, see the National Edition and Student Edition of our newsletter.

The Florida State University

IESES Newsletter

Local Edition - January 2011
Image of Melanie Simmons
In This Issue
How Ready Are We for Renewable Energy? The FSU Center for Advanced Power Systems Provides Industry and Academia with a Necessary Tool
Wind and Ocean Current Research Energy Makes Television News
City of Tallahassee Utilities Introduces Nights and Weekends Pricing
FSU Chooses Conservation to Lower Utility Bills
Who Could Benefit from the City's Nights and Weekends Utilities Program?
Please Attend the Free Energy and Sustainability Law Symposium:The Energy-Land Use Nexus
The Center for Advanced Power Systems, IESES and the National High Magnetic Field Lab Open House February 26th
IESES Goes to Dubai!
Professor and IESES Partner Awarded Distinguished AAAS Fellowship

How Ready Are We for Renewable Energy?  The FSU Center for Advanced Power Systems Provides Industry and Academia with a Necessary Tool

Researchers across the state of Florida are identifying new energy resources.  Florida Atlantic University's Florida Center of Excellence in Ocean Energy Technology  wants to harness massive amounts of power from the Gulf Stream current. The Florida State University Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies

  is investigating the potential for large amounts of offshore wind and ocean current energy on the Gulf of Mexico's continental shelf.  Roof-top and large scale solar systems that harness the Sun's power will become affordable and more widespread across the state.  Wouldn't it be a dream come true if these renewable energy sources provided 20, 30 or even 50 percent of our energy needs? Think of all the new industry that would come to or develop in Florida as a result of these new energy opportunities.


Solar Panels

Large Scale Photovoltaic System


Truly taking advantage of extensive renewable energy, however, requires an electric power infrastructure that is prepared to deliver these new types of resources, in large quantity, to their point of use. Some of the most popular types of renewable energy, such as solar and wind, are intermittent in nature.  Most types of renewable energy we may use in the future will be substantially different in how and where they convert and supply energy compared to the more traditional sources the electric power industry has relied on for nearly a century.  It is critically important, therefore, that we understand the implications and any potential unintended consequences of large penetration of renewables on the Florida power grid and plan for successful integration.    


With funding from IESES, the FSU Center for Advanced Power Systems (CAPS) is working on solutions. Over the last two years CAPS has developed models of the Florida electrical power transmission system suitable for researchers to investigate the many vastly different scenarios that could evolve in a grid of the future. While utility companies and reliability coordinator organizations have long utilitized models to aid in planning, they are highly detailed and proprietary, and cannot be released to the public. Moreover, utilities and reliability coordinators tend to focus on the changes to the system that are more concrete and imminent (i.e. reflected in 10-year site plans and other industry planning documents).  Industry, the academic research community, and other stakeholders can begin conducting extensive research on scenarios outside the normal planning horizon with the tools and approaches being developed at CAPS.  In partnership with industry groups and other stakeholders, CAPS can help leverage the vast knowledge-resources within the academic and research community to anticipate and investigate the critical questions regarding the large-scale renewable energy integration.     


So what does this mean?  Imagine it is 100 degrees Fahrenheit on a summer day and air conditioners are running almost constantly.  Imagine also, the region is relying on 30 percent of it's energy from solar and wind energy.  Then a weather front arrives and it quickly becomes overcast while the wind dies.  Models created by CAPS can simulate this imagined day and the impacts on grid operation while also testing the adequacy of different responses. CAPS accomplishes this not only with utility-industry-standard modeling tools, that facilitate information exchange with the industry and others, but also with very specialized research tools such as a Real-Time Digital Simulator, which allows grid behavior to be viewed with terrific resolution (think of an an MRI compared to an X-ray to borrow from the medical field).  Further, these types of real-time high-fidelity simulation tools make it possible to effectively test in the lab new technologies that may become critical to integrating large-scale renewable energy in the lab.


In order to validate the models, CAPS has forged a close collaboration with the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council (FRCC) and its member utilities. FRCC's mission is " to ensure and enhance the reliability and adequacy of bulk electricity supply in Florida, now and into the future." The council's job is to reinforce industry standards. The CAPS approach with industry stakeholders to leverage high-caliber analytical tools and resources in the research and academic community will allow for the renewables industry, academia, and the utility industry to work together. This collaboration will enable the participants to continue providing reliable and high quality power in the future when the penetration of renewable resources will far exceed the levels of today.  

Wind and Ocean Current Energy Research Makes Television News

Tallahassee TV station WCTV recently explored energy issues in Florida. More than 3 quarters of Florida's energy is from non-renewable resources like oil and natural gas.   WCTV interviewed Dr. Mark Powell  from FSU's Center for Ocean-Atmospheric Prediction Studies (COAPS) who is working on energy solutions through an effort to harness the energy from wind and ocean currents.  This research seeks to aid the development of offshore wind and underwater turbines to create energy and jobs for the state. 

Mark Powell on the news
Meteorologist Dr. Mark Powell

COAPS was established by the Florida Board of Regents in 1996 in the College of Arts and Sciences. Their mission is to do "interdisciplinary research in ocean-atmosphere-land-ice interactions to increase our understanding of the physical, social and economic consequences of climate viability". NOAA scientist Mark Powell is stationed at COAPS and is studying the potential for Florida coasts to provide renewable wind and ocean current energy.  The research is funded by the NOAA Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratories and IESES.  In the interview with Dr. Powell states, "Right now the estimates out there...suggest that maybe as much as 10 gigawatts of energy, that's about 10 nuclear power plants of energy produced that could be off our coast." Research in the area is still in the inception phases, yet the future of renewable energy for the sunshine state seems particularly bright.  Dr. Powell is an IESES research partner.  

City of Tallahassee Utilities Introduces Nights and Weekends Pricing  



As of November 1, 2010 the City of Tallahassee offers a pilot program called "Nights and Weekends." This new program will offer residents more control over their utility rates and an opportunity to save money.  The concept follows the model used by most cell phone companies and offers appealing rates during off-peak usage hours.  Consumers not currently enrolled in the program pay about 12 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) all the time.  The Nights and Weekends program charges about 8 cents per kWh at night (7 P.M. - 7 A.M.), on the weekends and holidays, while charging 22 cents per hour during weekday peak usage hours (7 A.M. - 7 P.M.).  As a comparison, the rate of 8 cents per kWh is less than the rate paid by Tallahassee residents over 100 years ago (see the old bill below).

Old Bill

Image of an old Tallahassee utility bill

A careful analysis of consumers energy use by the City may show that changing habits saves money. Yet, without a significant change in habits, the consumer will more than likely see an increase in their utility costs with the new plan.  So it is important to determine if this program is right for your household before participating.

Ask yourself two simple questions:  

1. Is your household typically away from home during the day on weekdays? 

2. Do you have the flexibility to shift some of your energy from the day to nights and weekends?

Nights and Weekends Chart
Nights and Weekends Rate

Jay Johansen, Art Director of Your Own Utilities, states "This program is getting our customers to rethink how they are using their energy to where they are becoming proactive instead of reactive."

This optional program is only possible because the City of Tallahassee Utilities has installed smart meters. In the future, smarter technology could help customers save more money on their utility bills by connecting their appliances to the smart grid.  For more information on Smart Meters and Grid, check out the Department of Energy's website and blog here   

FSU Chooses Conservation to Lower Utility Bills

Image of Jim Stephens
FSU Energy Engineer Jim Stephens
A rate structure like the City's Nights and Weekends Program may potentially influence Tallahassee resident's energy use behavior. However FSU, as a City of Tallahassee Utilities energy buyer, is better off paying the flat fee rate. This is because FSU uses the most energy during peak daytime hours.  FSU Energy Engineer,Jim Stephens,believes that the best way for FSU to lower energy costs is through energy conservation.  Energy conservation lowers usage before, during, and after the peak demand period.  Ideally, energy efficiency products like
many lighting, HVAC, and building control projects potentially pay for themselves in 7 years or less. Over a short span of time, FSU can reinvest energy savings and have a greater impact on energy conservation and sustainability. To view data and information tracking FSU's energy conservation effort, click here.    

Who Could Benefit from the City's Nights and Weekends Utilities Program?

All Tallahassee residents could potentially benefit from the new Nights and Weekends program. IESES' friend, Dr. Steve Chandler, found out about the program through a newspaper ad.  In an interview with IESES staff, Dr. Chandler reported that the information he received from the Tallahassee Utilities customer service line on the new "Nights and Weekends" program was terrific.  During the call, the representative analyzed his electricity use to see if he would benefit from the program.  He was an excellent candidate for the program since almost 80 percent of his energy usage was during nights and weekends.     

Dr. Steve Chandler
Dr. Steve Chandler

Dr. Chandler is the Chair of the FAMU Department of Health and Physical Education.  He felt that the program could be of benefit to faculty members, especially those who commute from the North East side of Tallahassee.  North-eastern residents who commute are more to likely leave their homes around 7 A.M. and spend most of their day, until around 7 P.M. or later, on campus. However, he noted this program is not suitable for those who frequently work at home, since the daytime charges have a substantially higher cost. 


The Nights and Weekends program offers flexibility to its users.  If savings are not realized, he (or anyone) can decide to opt-out at any time. If you are interested in learning more about the Nights and Weekends program please visit


Join Our Mailing List!

Please Attend the Free  

Energy and Sustainability Law Symposium:The Energy-Land Use Nexus

image of gavel 


This symposium brings together leading legal scholars and practitioners to consider this nexus between energy and land, looking in both directions: at energy consumption based on our land use patterns and land consumption for energy generation.

When: February 25 

8:00 A.M. - 3:30 P.M. (EST)


The Florida State University

College of Law  (See Map)

Tallahassee, FL 32306


For more information please contact Melanie Simmons at or 850-645-9165.


Welcome to the local edition of the IESES Newsletter! This newsletter highlights the research of our colleagues and our partnerships with the community. 


The focus of this issue is our partnerships with the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council and City of Tallahasee Utilities. Please let us know about any announcements or activities in the community related to energy sustainability.



Dave Cartes, PhD


Dave Cartes
The Center for Advanced Power Systems, IESES and the National High Magnetic Field Lab hold their annual open house February 26th  
The Center for Advanced Power Systems, IESES and the High Magnetic Field Lab will hold their annual Open House. 


Saturday, February 26, 2011, 10:00


to 3:00



Faculty and students will offer demonstrations of electricity and magnetism, superconductivity, fuel cells, smart grid technologies and more. There will also be fun

activities like hydrogen car races, programing robots and building your own electric motor.


Innovation Park   

(see map)


Leon County students are welcome to display their energy related science fair projects. For more information please contact:

Melanie Simmons


Image of Mag Lab Open House

Demonstration of the Tesla Coil at the Mag Lab.


Park in our convenient lot at 2000 Levy Avenue and enjoy the CAPS-IESES Open House.  Then walk to the Mag-Lab Open House down the road.  The Mag-Lab Open House features tesla coils, potato cannons, maglev trains and


IESES Goes to Dubai!
Image of Dave Cartes

Dave Cartes,

IESES Director

IESES director Dave Cartes is scheduled to be a guest speaker at the 36th Edition of Middle East Electricity conference. The conference will be held in Dubai, United Arab Emirates on February 9, 2011. Projected to be the largest edition to date with close to one thousand exhibitions from over fifty five countries, the focal topic will be smart energy and technology. The conference will address meeting the Middle East's energy supply and demand challenges while fostering collaborative business relations among smart energy suppliers across the globe. Middle East Electricity is supported by the United Emirates Ministry of Energy.

Click here for more information.  

Professor and IESES Partner Awarded Distinguished AAAS Fellowship

Dr. Per Arne Rikvold, Distinguished Research Professor, the James G. Skofronick Professor of Physics at FSU, and IESES research partner has been awarded an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) fellowship "for distinguished contributions to computational statistical physics and its interdisciplinary applications in condensed-matter and materials physics, electrochemistry, computer science, biology, and engineering." Triple A-S as it is commonly called, was founded in 1848, the AAAS has 262 affiliated societies and alliances with offices in Washington D.C and Cambridge U.K. They are dedicated to advancing science around the world by serving as a leader in championing science education and providing scientists with professional associations.        

Dr. Rikvold

Quoted about his admission as an AAAS fellow, he stated, "In my work, I have applied methods from statistical physics to nano-magnetism, electrochemistry and catalysis, computer science, evolutionary biology and ecology, economics, and power-grid engineering. Such systems of many interacting parts often show striking similarities in their ability to self-organize and display complex patterns and dynamic behaviors that span many orders of magnitude in space and time." Dr. Rickvold is an IESES Research partner.  

Students, Join the Seminole Association for Sustainable Energy!

Find us on Facebook


Student Association for Sustainable Energy (SASE)

is designed to help students

find research opportunities in sustainable energy

technology, policy, and climate change.  SASE provides opportunities to present

your research, participate in competitions, and network with notable FSU alumni and faculty in the field.  Our goal is to build your resume for accelerated career placement.


FSU is leading the charge with innovative energy and policy research and, through this organization, we will keep FSU students - both undergraduate

and graduate - actively involved.


Our first meeting will be held in a couple of weeks, with the date and time to be announced. If you are interested in helping organize this new group, contact Melanie Simmons at


Please spread the word about this group to your friends who might want to be involved!

Request a Tour of the Off-Grid Zero Emissions Building

Image of Melanie Simmons

Tours are by appointment only.

OGZEB is located in the parking lot behind the Love Building and Carothers on FSU's main campus, see

map. For tours, contact Shannon Ingersoll at

Embracing Our Tradition of Partnership Summit 

1890 Land Grants & HBCUs Reconnecting with Local Communities to Develop a Green Agenda


FEBRUARY 18-19, 2011
General Registration: $99
Seniors and Non-FAMU Students:  $10
FAMU Students:  Free

The FSU Institute for Energy Systems, Economics and Sustainability is a public resource. Here we carry out scholarly basic research and analysis in engineering, science, infrastructure, governance and the related social dimensions to further a sustainable energy economy. The Institute unites researchers from the disciplines of engineering, natural sciences, law, urban and regional planning, geography and economics to address sustainability and alternative power issues in the context of global climate change.

Editor Melanie Simmons at and
Associate Editor Carolyn Mooney at
FSU IESES Newsletter
2000 Levy Avenue, Suite 360
Tallahassee, FL 32310
(850) 645-9165