First Advisor

Harold A. Linstone

Date of Publication


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Systems Science


Systems Science




Multiple perspective concept, Electric power consumption -- Pacific Northwest -- Forecasting, United States -- Bonneville Power Administration



Physical Description

iv, xiv, 521 leaves: ill. 28 cm.


In 1982, the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA), a marketer of hydroelectric power in the Pacific Northwest, found itself in a new role which required it to acquire power resources needed to meet the demands of the region's utilities. In particular, it had to deal with the Washington Public Power Supply System's nuclear plant cost escalations. In response, BPA prepared its first independent regional power forecast. The forecast development process was intricate and multidimensional and involved a variety of interested parties. Application of the Multiple Perspective Concept uncovers strengths and weaknesses in this process by illuminating its technical, organizational and personal dimensions. Examination of the forecast from the technical perspective revealed an elaborate set of interlinked models used to develop baseline, high, and low forecasts. The organizational perspective revealed BPA to be in a transitional stage. Internally, ratemaking, forecasting, conservation, resource acquisition, and financial management swelled as new organizational functions. Interorganizationally, environmentalists, ratepayer groups, and the region's utilities all had strong interests in the decision regarding WPPSS plants. The personal perspective revealed that each of the Administrators heading BPA since the early 1980s defined the agency's approach to the resource planning problem differently, first as an engineering problem, then as a political problem, and, finally, as a business problem. Taken together, the Multiple Perspectives yielded the following conclusions about BPA's 1982 forecast. (1) BPA's range forecast constituted a major improvement over the point forecasts preceding it, but left important classes of uncertainty unexplored. (2) BPA's models were better suited to address rate and conservation issues important at the time of the 1982 forecast than their predecessors. The model of the national economy, however, remained a black box, potentially significant feedbacks were not represented, and the sheer size of the modeling system placed practical limits on its use. (3) A stronger method of dealing with forecast uncertainty is needed which utilizes a disaster-avoidance strategy and plans for high impact/low probability events. This method need not involve the use of large models, but should incorporate qualitative insights from persons normally outside the technical sphere.


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Portland State University. Systems Science Ph. D. Program.

Persistent Identifier