🇺🇸 Research engineer Alexis Francisco makes critical contributions

Press release from the Alaska Center for Energy and Power

By Arctic Business Journal - December 1, 2023
Alexis Francisco is a research engineer at ACEP.
Photo by Vera Francisco Alexis Francisco is a research engineer at ACEP.

By Yuri Bult-Ito

Alexis Francisco joined ACEP in 2022 as a summer undergraduate intern when she was a senior at UAF, studying electrical engineering with a concentration in power and control. With a B.S. in electrical engineering, she now serves ACEP as a full-time research professional.

As a power engineer, Francisco primarily works on power system modeling on the Railbelt Decarbonization project, constructing power system models and performing steady state and dynamic stability analysis in PSS/E and PowerFactory software. PSS/E, short for power system simulator for engineering, is used to study power system transmission networks, and PowerFactory is a power system analysis software.

Both steady state and dynamic stability examine different aspects of the system’s behavior under “contingency,” or unexpected events that impact the grid’s stable operations. When a contingency occurs due to a generator failure or a tree falling on a power line, steady state analyzes the state of the system pre- and post-event to determine whether the system can handle these events and still deliver power to consumers. Dynamic stability, on the other hand, analyzes the system’s response to the event during the event, accounting for the dynamic behavior of machines and inverter-based resources.

As Francisco and her team are finishing up the decarbonization project, she is gearing towards working more on the synthetic microgrid project, which aims to generate models of rural Alaska communities, using available data and power systems software.

“[Francisco’s] contributions to the Power Systems Integration team’s projects have been critical to the success of those projects,” said Phylicia Cicilio, who was Francisco’s mentor when she was an intern in 2022 and is her supervisor in her position as research engineer.

“We are so glad she decided to join our team as a research engineer after her internship!”

Francisco’s future work includes studies on hosting capacity –– the amount of renewable resources the grid can handle before components must be upgraded or replaced for stable and reliable operations.

She will also work on electromagnetic transient, or EMT, studies. EMT studies focus on rapid transient events that typically occur in micro- to milliseconds such as lightning strikes and short circuits. Ensuring system and equipment safety, reliability and stability is critical during these events.

As energy from renewable resources to the transmission system increases, it is important to study how the power electronics in the technologies affect the grid in order to properly design protection and controls, and develop mitigation strategies for unexpected events.

Francisco enjoys living and working in Fairbanks. Besides engineering, she is passionate about cooking. Francisco also enjoys reading and painting.

Originally published on 30 November by the Alaska Center for Energy and Power.

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