A. Martin Wildberger
Viewed as manufacturing, the electric power industry is more similar to process industries such as petroleum, chemicals and pharmaceuticals than to the manufacture of automobiles, electronic devices and clothing by discrete, assembly-fine operations. However, it has most of the same challenges as these other industries, often carried to their extremes. For instanze, while electricity has essentially zero shelf llfe and it’s transportation is effectively instantaneous, a local fault in that transportation/transmission system can instantly halt deliveries everywhere. With the advent of deregulation, competition and unbundling, the business aspects of electric power are becoming virtually indistinguishable from most other manufacturing industries. Issues of maintenance scheduling and product mix are becoming far more important than ever before. In the future, various unbundled areas of the industry will have strong similarities, as well as some significant differences, to other industries as varied as telecommunications and retail sales. The purpose of this "Perspective" is to outline some ofthese similarities and differences, and to describe some of ways in which artificial intelligence is being used to address these challenges in the context of the electric power industry.