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February 19, 2006

Purdue names director of utility forecasting group

Paul Preckel
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Paul Preckel, a Purdue professor of agricultural economics, has been named faculty director for the State Utility Forecasting Group, a research and technical analysis center based at the university.

The center is affiliated with Purdue's School of Industrial Engineering, Department of Agricultural Economics and the Energy Center in Discovery Park. Preckel began serving as faculty director on Feb. 1.

The State Utility Forecasting Group is a team of professionals supported by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission. For more than two decades the group has resided at Purdue, first in the Department of Agricultural Economics, then in the Institute of Interdisciplinary Engineering and most recently in the College of Engineering's School of Industrial Engineering. While the group's strong association with industrial engineering and agricultural economics will continue, it also will expand further into campus using its affiliation with the Energy Center. The group's primary purpose is to provide a biennial forecast report of the state's anticipated electricity use, prices and resource needs.

"Professor Preckel has the perfect background needed to head an organization that helps leaders in our state determine our future energy needs," said Jay Gore, interim director of the Energy Center, the Vincent P. Reilly Professor of Mechanical Engineering and an associate dean in the College of Engineering. "He will work closely with academic department heads and researchers across campus and will coordinate activities with the state's regulatory commission and its chairman, David Lott Hardy."

Preckel succeeds Ronald Rardin, a longtime industrial engineering professor at Purdue who is now at the University of Arkansas.

"As we look to the future, a number of challenges appear on the horizon," Preckel said. "For example, we will study the impact in the state's electricity costs resulting from federal regulations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Air Interstate Rule."

Other future projects for the group include:

*  Researching renewable energy sources.

*  Investigating how events, such as prolonged high natural gas prices, affect the use of electricity and natural gas.

*  Examining the impact of regional factors on Indiana's energy markets, such as the amount of energy generating capacity in the region.

"In other states, this type of forecast information is provided by the state's utilities regulatory oversight institution or by the utilities themselves," said Nagabhushana Prabhu, the James J. Solberg Head of Industrial Engineering. "But the utility forecasting group has been housed at Purdue for more than two decades, and with the collaborative effort among industrial engineering, the Energy Center and others we can continue to provide our state with the necessary information it needs concerning the forecast of electricity demand and prices."

The current state biennium funding of $1.25 million supports the group's research and working professionals. Doug Gotham, an electrical engineer, is the group's director.

Since joining Purdue in 1983, Preckel has focused his research on the mathematical modeling of economic systems, gaining support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Monsanto Corp., U.S. Agency for International Development, Elanco Corp. and the International Livestock Research Institute.

Preckel's research is in the areas of decision analysis and mathematical modeling. He is currently co-editor of the American Journal of Agricultural Economics. He has served as a consultant to the Electric Power Research Institute, Control Analysis Corp., Hudson Institute, University of Delaware, U.S. Agency for International Development and World Bank.

He earned his bachelor's degree in mathematical sciences from Ohio State University and master's and doctoral degrees in operations research from Stanford University.

Writers: Cynthia Sequin, (765) 494-4192,

Phillip Fiorini, (765) 496-3133,

Sources: Paul Preckel, (765) 494-4240,

Jay P. Gore, (765) 494-2122,

Nagabhushana Prabhu, (765) 494-5444,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists:  For more information, contact Cynthia Sequin, Purdue News Service, at (765) 494-4192,

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