From Puerto Rico to Alaska — Intern Dives into Energy Optimization Analysis

From Puerto Rico to Alaska — Intern Dives into Energy Optimization Analysis

Knowing how an energy system and its resources works is important for any power generation system. Taking that information and making the system more efficient is another whole process. That is what Melody C. Cosme Morales, a senior electrical engineering student at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez campus, is doing as part of her ACEP Undergraduate Student Internship.

Cosme Morales works under the supervision of Mohammad Heidari Kapourchali, an assistant professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage and an affiliated researcher of ACEP. 

This summer, Cosme Morales is working on energy optimization analysis using CVX and Matpower software through the Matlab programming platform. Cosme is using this software to optimize unit commitment and economic dispatch in order to analyze system costs, emissions production and reliability. 

The economic dispatch finds how much energy each generator in a power system should generate for a given demand while minimizing the total operational costs. This is important for planning for renewable integration while minimizing the financial impacts on utility customers. With many utilities along the Railbelt interested in decarbonizing, it is important to use these optimization methods to analyze the economic and environmental impacts of renewable integration. 

Cosme Morales is learning about the theoretical, mathematical and practical areas of energy optimization. She’s also learning how to run different types of optimization models and create or customize them for different scenarios. Cosme’s internship will provide her with a chance to acquire optimization skills and use the knowledge acquired from the analyses and optimization processes to contribute to the Railbelt decarbonization project, also led by ACEP.

“Just being here [in Alaska] has already been a great opportunity for me that I never imagined I would have; I am learning something completely new every day, and I am learning aspects of myself that I did not know. I am in love with my project and very excited about the impact it could have and all the learning I am acquiring,” said Cosme Morales.

This project was funded by the Office of Naval Research. For more information on the internship program, please contact Jeff Fisher at


Melody Cosme Morales is an ACEP undergraduate student intern from the University of Puerto Rico. Photo by Jeff Fisher.