This paper describes a Benders decomposition-based framework for solving the large scale energy management problem that was posed for the ROADEF 2010 challenge. The problem was taken from the power industry and entailed scheduling the outage dates for a set of nuclear power plants, which need to be regularly taken down for refueling and maintenance, in such away that the expected cost of meeting the power demand in a number of potential scenarios is minimized. We show that the problem structure naturally lends itself to Benders decomposition; however, not all constraints can be included in the mixed integer programming model. We present a two phase approach that first uses Benders decomposition to solve the linear programming relaxation of a relaxed version of the problem. In the second phase, integer solutions are enumerated and a procedure is applied to make them satisfy constraints not included in the relaxed problem. To cope with the size of the formulations arising in our approach we describe efficient preprocessing techniques to reduce the problem size and show how aggregation can be applied to each of the subproblems. Computational results on the test instances show that the procedure competes well on small instances of the problem, but runs into difficulty on larger ones. Unlike heuristic approaches, however, this methodology can be used to provide lower bounds on solution quality.
Journal of Scheduling, 2013, Vol 16, Issue 6, p. 605-628