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Forecasting Practices at Tenaga Nasional Berhad

Zuhaimy Hj Ismail1 , Fuad Jamaluddin2 and F. Azna Ahmad3


Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Skudai, Johor, Malaysia,

Operations and Division Planning, Grid System Management Division, Tenaga Nasional

The intrinsic uncertainties associated with demand forecasting become more acute
when it is required to provide an invaluable dimension to the decision-making process
in a period characterized by fast and dynamic changes. A study was conducted to
understand the practices of forecasting at Tenaga Nasional Berhad. Estimates of the
peak demand, factors affecting load demand, the system used, the organizational
structure involved in forecasting and the types of forecasting methods are some of the
issues discussed. A proposal to develop a unique system for forecasting of electricity
load demand will include the ability to handle large data, overcome the problem of
data management and fast result. The forecasting methodology and techniques used
depends largely on data and tools availability, the frequency of conducting the
forecasting study, implementation cost, staffing as well as skilled possessed by TNB
staff in conducting the forecasting exercise. He we present a RuleBased System was
developed and proposed for implementation at TNB in the short term forecast.
Keywords: Forecasting, Short term, load demand and forecast accuracy

1.0 Introduction
Demand of energy form the basis for power system planning, power security and
supply reliability. In the energy sectors, desire to obtain accurate and reliable forecast
is the objective of all electric utilities. Since Malaysia is one of the fastest growing
nations in the region, reliability and the confidence levels associated with these
forecasts are more crucial in this fast growing region with fast growing demand of
energy. As the nation grow, there is nothing in the history of the world has had a
greater impact on the quality of life than the development and application of electrical
power. It has taken over the performance of a myriad of tasks that previously had been
accomplished only with great effort by animal or human power. Electric power
systems are key elements of modern society, providing clean and convenient energy to
drive motors, light homes and streets, run manufacturing plants and businesses and
power our communications and computer systems.
In Malaysia, electric power is provided by Tenaga Nasional Berhad and
several Independent Power Producer (IPP). Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) is the

largest electric utility in Malaysia. TNB was established in September 1990 through a
corporatisation and privatization exercise by the Malaysian government. The
corporatisation is regulated under the Electricity Supply Department under the
Ministry of Energy, Telecommunications and Posts, Malaysia1.
TNB has more than RM 54 billion in assets and serving over five million
customers throughout the Peninsular and Sabah. TNB core activities are in the
generation , transmission and distribution of electricity. Until now TNB remain the
main provider in electricity generation and through its wholly owned subsidiary TNB
Generation Sdn. Bhd., TNB has the largest generation capacity of over 7100 MW that
accounts for over 62% of the total power generation of Peninsular Malaysia1.
2.0 Electric Power System
The core activities of TNB are in the generation, transmission and distribution of
electricity. These activities are managed by TNB subsidiaries i.e. TNB Generation
Sdn. Bhd., TNB Transmission Sdn. Bhd. and TNB Distribution Sdn. Bhd.
TNB Generation Sdn. Bhd. was established in September 1997 as an Independent
Power Producer, as part of the Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) effort at re-strategising
its various operations aimed at greater efficiency, productivity, accountability,
transparency and profitability, TNB Generation Sdn. Bhd., is the main provider of
electricity and function as the countrys biggest independent power producer (IPP). It
would lease all the equipment from TNB and sell the power back to TNB. TNBs
major power plants are strategically located throughout Peninsular Malaysia. Despite
the fact that generation of electricity has been opened to competition recently , TNB is
still the dominant generator. TNB Generation Sdn. Bhd. manages 7 power plants with
a current generating capacity of over 5636 MW, by far the single largest within the
country, with a smart mix of gas turbine combined cycle, conventional thermal
(oil/gas as well as coal-fired), gas turbine and hydro generators (Table 1) 2. This
strategic combination allows much fuel flexibility with impressive resultant gains in
generation reliability and cost-efficiency.

Table 1: Generating Capacity Mix

Plants Type



Combined Cycle

1,557 MW


Conventional Thermal (Oil / Gas)

1,751 MW


Conventional Thermal (Coal)

600 MW


Gas Turbine

1,728 MW



5,636 MW


TNB Transmission Network Sdn. Bhd. (TNBT), is a wholly-owned subsidiary of
Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) operationalised on 1st September 1999. TNBT is the
transmission network service provider for Peninsular Malaysia. TNBT have
developed a secure grid system that will support the electricity supply infrastructure
of the nation, comprising of lines and substations that can handle bulk power
transmission up to 500 kV 3. Transmission system is a system of high voltage network
which interconnects main generating stations with major load center. Transmission
system means the system of supply line with voltage levels to or above 66kV, owned
and operated by the licensee for the transmission of electricity between generating
stations and substations and includes any electrical plant equipment and meters owned
or used by the licensee in connection with transmission of electricity. The system also
enables bulk transfer of power between these transmission points. In Peninsular
Malaysia, this transmission system is known as the National Grid. The voltages at
which bulk power transfer takes place in the National Grid are 132kV, 275kV and
500kV. TNB Transmission Network Sdn. Bhd. maintains the towers and transmission
lines, and high voltage equipment at substations. Substations are integral parts of a
power system and form important links between generating stations, transmission
systems, distribution systems and load points.


The distribution system is an integral part of TNB distribution operations as it

distributes power directly to the customers. In this instance, the high voltages (11kV
and 33kV) link transmission substations directly to major customers and indirectly,
after stepping down to 415V to other customers. Residential and small commercial
centers are normally supplied at 240V and 415V. The present installed capacity at
Distribution level is 2940MW where the maximum demand is 1790MW 4.
3.0 Forecasting Practices at TNB
There are many factors involved in the successful operation of a power system. The
power system is expected to have power instantaneously and continuously available
to meet customers demand. It also expected that the voltage supplied to the
customers will be maintained at nominal rate. Other operating consideration are that
the public and employees should not be placed in hazard by operations of the system
and at the same time proper operating procedures must be observed to avoid damage
to equipment and to other facilities of the system. All of these requirements must be
achieved simultaneously and it is also expected that the production and distribution of
power will be accomplished at minimum cost. In addition to meeting the reliability
and economic requirements, consideration must also be given to planning for future
installations. In planning for daily and future load demand forecasting plays a very
important role in the electricity industries.
Forecasting demand is an essential activity and is one of the most important
functions in power system planning and development. It is a prerequisite to power
system expansion planning as the world of electricity is dominated by substantial
lead times between decision making and its implementation. This is further
complicated when the product i.e. electricity cannot be stored (in large volume) and
also, the electricity supply industry is capital intensive. The importance of demand
forecasting needs to be emphasized at all level as the consequences of under or over
forecasting the demand are serious and will affect all stakeholders in the electricity
supply industry. If under estimated, the result is serious since plant installation cannot
easily be advanced , this will affect the economy, business, loss of time and image. If
over estimated, the financial penalty for excess capacity (i.e. over-estimated and
wasting of resources).

At TNB, forecasting demand and future planning and expansion is undertaken

by two separate division. For short and medium term load demand and planning, it is
under the purview of Operations and Division Planning, Grid System Managemant
Division and for long term demand and planning it is under Demand Forecast Unit,
System Planning and Development, Grid System Managemant Division.
Types of Forecast Employed by TNB
There are three types of forecast procedures that is being employed by TNB. Namely,
a. Short term forecast
b. Medium term forecast
c. Long term forecast
3.1 Short Term Forecast at TNB
Short term forecast at TNB is being generated by senior engineer at Operations and
System Planning Division. This section oversees the short term as well as medium
term forecast. Short term forecast at TNB implied to the hourly, daily, weekly and
monthly load forecast. Methods employed for short term forecast is purely based on
the expertise and experience of one forecaster. Through experience, he has developed
intuitive relationships between electrical load and weather parameters , time of day,
day of week, season and time lag of response. Various factors need to be taken into
account in order to arrive at hourly , daily and weekly forecast. These factors are daily
temperature, legal and religious holidays, seasonal effects and human behaviour
whether they will take a day off preceding and following the holidays as to take
advantage of a long break (M.S.Owayedh et al., 2000). Modifications in the
electricity usage patterns are observed during these times as people have the
tendencies of creating long weekend. Short term forecast based on the experienced
forecaster is highly reliable with forecast error in the range of 1%-3%.
Purpose of Short Term Forecast
Short term load forecast (STLF) plays a key role in the formulation of economic,
reliable and secure operating strategies for the power system. The principal objective

of the STLF function is to provide the load predictions for basic generation
scheduling, assessing the security of the power systems at any time point and as a
timely dispatcher information.
The primary application of the STLF function is to drive the scheduling
functions that determine the most economic commitment of generation sources
consistent with reliability requirements, operational constraints and policies and
physical, environmental and equipment limitations. Setting the spinning reserves,
maintenance scheduling and setting an optimal mix is also included in these primary
application of STLF.
The second application of STLF is an essential data requirement of the off-line
network analysis function for the detection of future conditions under which the
power system may be vulnerable. This information permits the dispatcher to prepare
the necessary corrective action for example bringing peaking units on line, load
shedding, power purchase or switching operations to operate the system securely.
The third application of STLF is to provide system dispatchers with timely
information, i.e. the most recent load forecast with the latest weather prediction and
random behaviour taken into account. The dispatchers need this information to
operate the system economically and reliably.
The timeliness and accuracy of STLF have significant effects on power system
operations and production cost. System dispatchers must anticipate the system load
patterns so as to have sufficient generation to satisfy the demand . At the same time
sufficient levels of spinning reserves and stanby reserve are required to mitigate the
impacts of uncertainty inherent in the forecasts and in the availability of generating
3.2 Medium Term Forecast
At TNB medium term forecast is undertaken by two different section namely by TNB
Distribution which carried out the Regional Load Forecast which is a five year plan of
load demand for each region which will then broken down to state, districts and
substations (transmission main intake) and by Operations Planning Division which
forecast the Five Year Operations Planning.
Five Year Operations Planning

Five Year Operations Planning is carried out by senior engineer at the Operations
Planning Division, GSMD. The Five Year Operations Planning is carried out using
the inputs from long term forecast i.e. from System Planning and Development
Report, GSMD with other inputs from Customer Services, Budget Planning and
Transmission Operations Department (Five Year Planning Report 2001-2005, TNB).
The most important forecast in the five year operations planning is the monthly
maximum demand and energy demand forecast for the next five years. Once this
forecasts is available this information is used to generate many other forecast. These
information then is integrated and used to plan for:
1. TNBs generation future plant-up: this is a medium term planned on how
much energy is to be generated by TNB and IPP yearly for for 5 years. This
will represents the availability of all generating plants, which is subject to
central dispatch of NLDC, existing and future TNB plants as well as IPPs
2. To determined the capacity mix i.e. system installed capacity mix between
TNB and IPP for five years.
3. To compute capacity margin which is based on plant-up dates and monthly
demand forecast. (The capacity margin is the amount by which the total
generation capacity exceeds the maximum demand and this margin is often
expresses as a percentage of the maximum demand).
4. To compute generation distribution i.e. generation mix according to fuel types
for five financial years. This is to estimate fuel usage based on fuel types:
distillate, oil, coal, TNB gas, hydro and fuel usage by IPP.
5. TNB Generation Cost, TNB generation cost per unit energy and total system
generation cost. This is to highlight the cost per unit of generating electricity
from TNB plants and the energy payment to the IPP.

The information from monthly forecasted value of maximum demand and energy
demand for the next five year is also use by Operations Planning Division to derive
the short term load forecast . The methods employed by the section is simply by
projecting the anticipated growth rate to the present value to derived at the maximum
demand and energy demand for the next five years.
Regional Load Forecast
Another medium term forecast which is Regional Load Forecast is carried out by
each Regional Load Forecaster with the help from State Planner (which forecast the
load for each state and substation under them. Duration of this forecast is from 1 to 5
years. This forecast is made yearly and is carried out by System Planning and
Development, GSMD, Regional Load Forecaster, State Planner (from each State) and
Engineering Department of TNB Distribution. This yearly exercise is done bottom-up,
where each state planner will

forecast the demand for each state, district and

substations under them. To come to this, each district will forecast its load demand
based on the forecast growth provided by GSMD, and the contribution factor by each
substations. The total demand is then add up to get the total demand of electricity load
for each state. National Integrated Common Forecast will try to suit both the long
term planning with the information from each state. If there is any discrepancies then
at this point some adjustment to the forecasted load will be made and the newly
agreed value is then confirmed. Once this values is agreed this will be disaggregated
back to the states, districts and lastly to each substations ( Figure 2).
The method employed by each State Planner to forecast the load demand for
each state is from the information on economic growth anticipated in the area and
development planning

such as housing, industrial and commercial areas. This

information is obtained from the GSMD which oversees the long term forecast and
planning for Peninsular Malaysia. The forecasted growth is then projected to the
present load data to get the forecasted data for the next five years.
Figure 1 : Flowchart of National Forecast for Regional Load Forecast
Div. Planning Unit (TNBT)

Integrated Forecast (medium to

long term)

Engineering Department
Regional Aggregate Forecast

Updated data and District Forecast

National Aggregate Forecast

(medium to long term)

Area Forecast
National Distribution (aggregate

National Integrated Common


Disaggregation Forecast by area

Disaggregation Load Forecast

(district, PMUs)

3.3 Long Term Forecast

At TNB, the projections of long term electricity demand forecasting are placed under
the purview of the Systems Planning and Development, Grid System Management
Division which overseas the long term planning and development of the power
system in Peninsular Malaysia. Within the division, a demand Forecast Section was
established to focus on these functions and activities.
Function and Roles of the Load Forecast Section in TNB
Currently, the projections of long term electricity demand for Peninsular Malaysia are
carried out by the Generation Planning and Load Forecast Unit, Grid Systems
Management Division, TNB. This unit is involved in both generation planning
activities and demand forecasting i.e. demand and supply studies. Specifically, the
functions and roles of the Load Forecast Section in the unit can be summarized as
follows (Chen Boon Nam, 2001):
1. To procure data and setting up of database for the purposes of load forecasting.

2. To develop and maintain forecasting techniques and methodologies i.e. time

series analysis, regression analysis, trend analysis.
3. To execute and prepare the annual demand forecast study and periodically
reviews as required.
4. To coordinate the development of aggregation and disaggregation of demand
forecasts for regional development plans i.e. regional load forecast study
5. To procure and analyse data related to demand characteristics and patterns for
load profiling study and DSM projects i.e. end use, chronological load and
load duration curve.
6. To carry-out ad-hoc studies relating to demand forecasts and forecasts
performance i.e. impact of co-generation scheme on demand, tariff hike,
impact of load management program.

Methods used for forecast:

The TNB forecasting methodology has evolved from a pure judgemental approach to
a statistical/judgemental approach method since 1970. Early 1980s represents the
pioneer attempts at using time series analysis, regression analysis and income
elasticity approaches to demand forecasting . Late 1980s witnessed the introduction
of several methods, namely the sectoral trend analysis and end-use method to
complement the adopted approaches. Most of the approaches have been retained till
today and are still used in the load forecasting study. Various forecasting approaches
adopted are time series analysis, regression analysis, sectoral trend analysis and
income elasticity approach (Long Term Forecast Report 1994-2000, TNB).
4.0 Discussion on current practices of forecasting at TNB
There are a number of problems facing TNB is their forecasting excercises especially
in the short term and medium term forecast. Most of the forecasting excercises is done
directly based on experiences of the forecasters. In STLF, forecast is solely relying on
one season forecaster with years of experience. As these experiences has been
accumulated for years, it is hard to pass on directly to others. However no technique

has been able to achieve the flexibility and versatility of seasoned operators in their
ability to account for the many variables that effect the electrical load (Aboul-Magd et
al., 2001). Over the years there are many past studies that try to emulate the season
forecasters ability. One approach is using the rules based or knowledge based expert
system. There are some success but the system is rather complex (Kab-Ju Hwan and
Gwang-Won Kim, 2001). Another popular methods is using articial neural netwok for
short term load forecast (Amjady, Nima, 2001).
For medium term forecast, the forecast procedure is based on forecast growth
and does not taken into account the effect of weather and legal or religious holidays.
This will make the forecast inaccurate and deviate largely from the real value when
comparison is made. This will post another problem as this five plan is served as an
input for monthly STLF. The Operations Planning Division feel that there is a need to
get a better tool in forecasting the monthly maximum demand which could
incorporate other influencing variables like weather and holidays to the forecasting
procedures to improve the accuracy of the current forecasts.
For long term forecast TNB use rather sophisticated techniques such as time
series, regression, and econometric models. The long term forecast however is not
influenced by the weather and holidays but by economic factors such as population,
GDP and average electricity price (Long Term Forecast Report 1994-2000, TNB.)
5.0 Conclusion
It can be concluded that there is no unique way of forecasting electricity load demand
employed by TNB. The forecasting methodology and techniques use depends largely
on data and tools availability, the frequency of conducting the forecasting study,
implementation cost, staffing as well as skilled possessed by TNB staff in conducting
the forecasting exercise. There are rooms for improvement for TNB especially in the
short term and medium term forecasting activities and this gap is hope to be filled
from this research that is currently undertaken by TNB Operations Planning Division
and UTM in helping TNB Operations Planning Division to have a better forecasting
tool in carrying their five year operation planning.


1. Aboul-Magd, M., and El-Sayed Ahmed, E., 2001, An Artificial Neural

Network Model for Electrical Daily Peak Load Forecasting with an
Adjustment for Holidays, IEEE Transactions.
2. Amjady, Nima, 2001, Short-Term Hourly Load Forecasting Using Time Series
Modelling with Peak Load Estimation Capability, IEEE Transactions on
Power System, Vol. 16, No. 3, pg 498-505.
3. Chen Boon Nam, 2001, Long Term Electricity Demand Forecasting in TNB
(unpublished report).
4. Five Year Planning Report 2001-2005, TNB.
5. Ibrahim Moghram, and Saifur Rahman, 1989, Analysis and Evaluation of
Five Short Term Load Forecasting Techniques, IEEE Trans. On Power
Systems, Vol.4, No.4.
6. Load Forecast Report 1996-2000, TNB.
7. Long Term Forecast Report 1994-2000, TNB.
8. M.S.Owayedh, Al-Bassam and Khan, Z.R. Khan, 2000, Identificaton of
Temperature and Social Events Effects on Weekly Demand Behaviour, IEEE
Transactions .
9. Kab-Ju Hwan and Gwang-Won Kim, 2001, Proceedings of The Fifth RussianKorean International Symposium on Science and Technology, Volume: 1,
Page(s): 112 116.
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