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IEEE Virginia Mountain Section

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September 2010 Meeting
Thursday, September 16, 2010

Holiday Inn Roanoke - Valley View

The Effects of Harmonics in Power Systems
and Methods to Reduce or Eliminate Them

Presented by: Wilbur N. Dale, PhD, PE

In this talk, the sources that introduce harmonics into power systems and the effects the harmonics have on the power system are presented. The most common sources of harmonics are electronic power supplies; hence, sources for harmonics exist in almost all power systems.

In single phase systems, harmonics cause more power losses (heating), larger voltage drops in the power cables, and false circuit breaker trips (a trip when not necessary to protect the system). In three phase systems, harmonics also cause a larger current in the neutral (wye connection) or a circulating current (delta connection) in addition to the single phase effects mentioned above. Specification of transformers for harmonic loads is thus more complex and will be discussed.

Once the sources and effects of harmonics are presented, methods to handle the effects of harmonics and methods to reduce the effects of harmonics will be presented. Finally, methods for eliminating the harmonics using better power supplies will be discussed.

PDF file of presentation


Wilbur grew up in Portsmouth, VA and graduated from Old Dominion University with a BSEE. He received his MS and PhD from The Ohio State University in Control Systems. His thesis project for his MS involved the control of a resistance spot welding machine, which is how he became involved in power issues such as harmonics in power systems. He was a Senior Research Engineer for the Edison Welding Institute in Columbus, OH and a Software Engineer for Lumin Software in the Netherlands. He was also a Visiting Professor at Cleveland State University and an Assistant Professor at Virginia Military Institute.


Meeting Details:

Date: Thursday, September 16, 2010
Social: 6:30 PM
Dinner: 7:00 PM
Talk: 8:00 PM
Cost: Members & Guests $20.00, Students $10.00

Location: Holiday Inn - Roanoke Valley View(click here for map)

3315 Ordway Drive
Roanoke, VA

Directions to Holiday Inn - Roanoke Valley View:

I-581, Exit 3
Hershberger Rd West
1st Right onto Ordway Drive, ¼ mile,
Right into parking lot.

Please Reserve by 5 PM, Monday, September 13, 2010. Please specify the number of attendees.

Howard Moses, or

Dave Livingston, (540-464-7545)

Continuing Education Credit Hours

The Virginia Mountain Section will award 1 continuing education credit hour to P.E.'s licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia who attend the presentation at the September meeting detailed above. For more information, contact Dave Livingston at

Continuing Education Credit Hours

The Virginia Mountain Section will award 1 continuing education credit hour to P.E.'s licensed in the Commonwealth of Virginia who attend the presentation at the September meeting detailed above. For more information, contact Dave Livingston at


The section is in need of volunteers with fresh ideas to help it continue to provide high quality services to its membership. If you are willing to serve as a member of the executive committee, the newsletter editor, assist with the webpage, etc., please come to our next executive committee meeting prior to the general meeting on September 16, 2010 at 5:30 PM.

In Memoriam: Ira Jacobs

Ira Jacobs, a professor of electrical engineering and former interim department head at Virginia Tech died August 11, 2010 after a long battle with cancer. An expert in fiber optic telecommunications, Jacobs joined ECE in 1987 after a 32-year career at Bell Labs.

The VMS will be collecting donations to be forwarded to one of Ira's favorite charities in the name of the section. More information on how to contribute will be forthcoming.

An announcement by Scott Midkiff, Professor and Department Head at Virginia Tech, appears below.

It is with great sadness that I report that Ira Jacobs passed away this morning, August 11. Ira has battled colon cancer since 1992 with great strength and dignity.

The funeral will be this Friday in New Jersey. There will be a memorial service in Blacksburg at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday, September 5. I do not know further details, but will provide them when available. It is expected that an obituary will appear in tomorrow’s paper.

Ira received his BS from City College of New York in 1950 and his MS and PhD from Purdue in 1952 and 1955, respectively. After graduating from Purdue he joined Bell Labs and “retired” from Bell Labs in 1987. Educated as a physicist, Ira distinguished himself as an engineer. Perhaps his most notable accomplishment at Bell Labs was directing the development and trial deployments of AT&T’s initial fiber optic communication systems in the 1970s. Always humble, Ira once told me that his greatest accomplishment at Bell Labs was recruiting Bob Lucky to Bell Labs from Purdue.

Although he retired from Bell Labs in 1987, Ira certainly did not retire from professional pursuits. He joined our faculty that year as a Professor. Ira was valued as a researcher, as a teacher, and, especially, as an outstanding citizen of the department. He took on many assignments in the department, including a one-year term as interim department head. As one small example of his recent service, Ira contributed significantly to writing the self-study reports for our EE and CPE ABET program reviews in 2008. As recently as last year, while “retired” from Virginia Tech, Ira volunteered as a consulting member of the department’s Assessment Committee.

Ira was a Life Fellow of the IEEE and was particularly engaged in the IEEE Virginia Mountain Section, even while “retired.” I spoke at the IEEE VMS meeting in Roanoke this past March and it was a pleasure to see Ira there.

Ira was one of the wisest and fairest people that I ever met. Virginia Tech was fortunate to have him on its faculty and we were all fortunate to have him as a colleague. He was truly special and will be greatly missed. Please keep Irene and the rest of Ira’s family in your thoughts and prayers at this difficult time for them.

Scott Midkiff

Complete obituary from VT ECE.

The Virginia Mountain Section (VMS) of the IEEE has been serving members in the Southwest corner of the Commonwealth of Virginia since 1949.

We currently have one active technical chapter representing three Technical Societies:

  • Computers, Control Systems, and Industrial Electronics

two Student Chapters in local universities and colleges:

  • Virginia Military Institute
  • Virginia Tech

and the VMS Consultants Network Affinity Group

The purpose of this Affinity Group is to share information concerning consulting opportunities, and to make a list of consultants and their areas of expertise available to potential employers.

Anyone wishing to be added to this group, or desiring more information should contact David Livingston,

Information about our Section, the Chapters, and material of interest to our members may be found by selecting items in the left column of this page.



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(last modified: September 17, 2010 )