The GridWise Alliance has released a report outlining a series of recommendations to help alleviate the effects of large scale events on the nation's electric system. The recommendations are the direct result of a workshop convened following Superstorm Sandy during which representatives from 20 electric utilities from across the U.S., along with suppliers and other experts, shared their experiences and lessons learned in dealing with these events.
"Disruptions to our power system from large scale events pose more than an inconvenience in today's digital economy. The United States depends on a reliable, resilient, safe, and secure electric power system, and when this service is disrupted the impacts are felt by all," said Becky Harrison, CEO of the GridWise Alliance. "Modernization of the grid would help to reduce these effects. The GridWise Alliance report identifies actions that can be taken by utilities, policy makers, emergency responders and technology suppliers to improve the resiliency of our electric power grid during future extreme events."
Examples of key insights include:
- New technologies deployed on the electric grid provide utilities with advanced remote control and monitoring capabilities. For example, smart meters and smart grid censors now provide utilities with visibility to actually know when the lights are off, without waiting for customers to pick up the phone and report outages.
- Advances in weather forecasting combined with better modeling of damage caused by these events could greatly enhance the utilities ability to plan their response, neighborhood by neighborhood, and get the lights back on faster and at a lower cost.
- The nation's critical infrastructure is becoming more interconnected and utilities must understand and plan for this interdependence. Many people now depend on smart phones to manage their lives more effectively. Utilizing this same cellular network for grid equipment to automatically report its status and for restoration crews working to repair the grid to communicate their efforts requires cellular networks to be up a running during these events.
- During Sandy, utilities received tweets with pictures of downed power lines, yet there was no way to tie these pictures to their equipment and locations. The computer systems run by utilities can be adapted to use these social media feeds to automatically update the grid's system conditions and reduce the time delay in responding.
- In areas where there is a high penetration of distributed energy resources, the availability of these resources is currently limited during outage events. New policies, rules and operating procedures are needed in order to safely leverage customer owned power sources during major outage events like Sandy.