Aged national power grid leaves US vulnerable to outages from spring storms

Apr 15, 2013

(Phys.org) —With one storm system moving east from the Great Plains, midwest, and south this week—leaving tens of thousands without power—and yet another storm system expected next week, attention is once again turning toward the vulnerabilities of the nation's power grid.

"As we move into the warmer months and the chance for stronger storms increases, we'll again witness the impact these have on an aged and exposed power distribution and transmission system," said Gregory Reed, University of Pittsburgh associate professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering and director of the Electric Power Initiative in the Center for Energy of Pitt's Swanson School of Engineering.

"In parts of the U.S. where the grid system is 'out in the open' and exposed to the elements—especially in our older cities—the risk increases for widespread power outages and lengthy, costly repairs," Reed explained.

"Since these storm systems are only expected to intensify, this should be a clarion call for a nationwide discussion for greater grid resiliency, investments in underground infrastructure, and moving toward a direct-current . The majority of our distribution system was built between the 1930s and 1970s and is growing less capable of handling natural disruptions and is less efficient at meeting the needs of our culture."

Reed is available to comment on the U.S. power grid as it relates to energy, infrastructure, and economic value. He is also able to comment on the following issues:

  • Power electronics using high voltage direct currents (HVDC), flexible AC transmission systems (FACTS), and control technologies;
  • and integration;
  • Smart grid technologies and applications;
  • Direct Current (DC) technology and research;
  • Energy storage systems and developments;
  • and energy management; and
  • Power quality.

Explore further: Website shines light on renewable energy resources

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Building a better telecom system

Jul 22, 2008

Hurricane Katrina helped University of Texas professor, Alexis Kwasinski, formulate a new plan for the U.S. telecom system: a de-centralized power architecture that would have kept the lights and phones on in New Orleans. ...

Smart Grid Technology: Vulnerable To Hackers

Mar 23, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Smart Grids are digitally based electricity distribution and transmission systems and test have shown that a hacker can break into the system resulting in a massive blackout.

Smart software for self-regulating smart grid

May 24, 2011

Siemens and the utility company Allgauer Uberlandwerk (AUW) in the city of Kempten, Germany, are testing the smart grids of the future. The tests focus on optimized power distribution and the use of a self-organizing ...

Recommended for you

The state of shale

10 hours ago

University of Pittsburgh researchers have shared their findings from three studies related to shale gas in a recent special issue of the journal Energy Technology, edited by Götz Veser, the Nickolas A. DeCecco Professor of Che ...

Website shines light on renewable energy resources

Dec 18, 2014

A team from the University of Arizona and eight southwestern electric utility companies have built a pioneering web portal that provides insight into renewable energy sources and how they contribute to the ...

Better software cuts computer energy use

Dec 18, 2014

An EU research project is developing tools to help software engineers create energy-efficient code, which could reduce electricity consumption at data centres by up to 50% and improve battery life in smart ...

Cook farm waste into energy

Dec 17, 2014

It takes some cooking, but turning farm waste into biofuels is now possible and makes economic sense, according to preliminary research from the University of Guelph.

User comments : 9

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarE
1 / 5 (1) Apr 15, 2013
The fact of the matter is that privatization has left the American power grid inadequately maintained. No modernization has taken place at all.

This is due to the fact that as soon as the system was given to Corporate Management they started converting the system to a profit center by raising prices and reducing modernization and preventative maintenance, thereby increasing grid unreliability and vulnerability.

The Privatization demanded by Libertarian Economists is once again proven itself to be a disaster for Americans, as have all grand Libertarian economic plans for America.

ryggesogn2
3 / 5 (4) Apr 15, 2013
More incentive to decentralize the grid with small nuclear reactors.
Sealed nuclear reactors from Toshiba can be installed into the basements of large building and underground near small towns.
After the California brownouts from so called deregulation, which was NOT deregulation but bad regulation from the federal govt, the govt would have learned?
The grid is regulated by FERC. http://www.ferc.g...does.asp
VendicarE
not rated yet Apr 15, 2013
RyggTard, like most of his Randite brothers in crime demand that the solution to the failure of deregulation is more deregulation.

Albert Einstein's definition of insanity - "Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

PeterParker
3 / 5 (2) Apr 15, 2013
It is good to see moronic "Randites" like RyggTard admitting that their campaign to privatize the U.S. power grid has been a disaster for Americans.

The same has been true for their long campaign to deregulate the banking industry.

As chief "Randite" Alan Greenspan admitted. The 2008 collapse of the U.S. banking industry was a direct result of his own faith in the ideology of Ayn Rand.

Greenspan was Rand's most prominent protege.

ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (5) Apr 15, 2013
What deregulation?
Their has been NO deregulation.
But their has been poor govt regulation.
VendicarE
not rated yet Apr 16, 2013
For RyggTard and others who may be as spectacularly ignorant.

http://www1.eere....imer.pdf

"What deregulation? " - RyggTard
VendicarE
not rated yet Apr 16, 2013
Libertarians and Randites are constantly caught telling lies both big and small in the defense of their corrupt and poisonous ideology.

"Their has been NO deregulation." - RyggTard

Liar.

http://www.opense...tricity/
PPihkala
not rated yet Apr 19, 2013
I think that it is misleading to compare high voltage DC electrical transmission with low voltage DC used in consumer devices. The reason why we currently use AC grid is the fact that in AC system one can transform the voltage between different levels with low tech devices: the transformer. This is the main reason why AC grid developed by Nicola Tesla was adopted instead of the DC system proposed by Edison.
robertman
not rated yet Apr 20, 2013
Solution to power outages: Home Standby Generators (Kohler/Generac/Briggs-Stratton/ GE etc).
Key Component to the installation and proper support of a Generator is a solid concrete pad.
Google: "Americast Pad" "Americast Pad Sandy' "best precast Gen pad in the world"

Pads delivered with small bulk order for less than $200 per pad in US.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.