Critical Infrastructure: Resiliency of Electric Systems

Infrastructure protection is a critical component to our nation’s ability to respond and recover from major disruptive events, such as natural hazards and targeted attacks. Investment into resiliency and updating electrical and power infrastructure is important in ensuring preparedness for the future, as well as for increasing efficiency and environmental protection considerations. A recent report prepared by Grid Strategies LLC for the National Resources Defense Council and the Environmental Defense Fund addresses the importance of addressing these concerns:

“Although America’s power grid is very reliable, resilience is in the news for two reasons. Recent hurricanes, winter storms, and other extreme weather events have violently awoken customers to the realities of major, extended power outages by damaging transmission and distribution (T&D) assets. At the same time, concerns over the changing generation fuel mix have led to claims that retirements of uneconomic coal and nuclear plants threaten grid reliability and resilience.”

The report, titled “A Customer-Focused Framework for Electric System Resilience,” focuses on the importance of pursuing changes and updates in a customer-focused manner, as customers are key stakeholders in America’s power grids and pay high prices for inefficient grid systems. The report claims: “America’s resources are not unlimited. We need a way for policy-makers and industry executives to assess and compare the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of various resilience options. Those comparisons should be customer-centric rather than grid-centric.”

The report addresses the critical relationship between power system reliability and resilience, and provides an assessment of how best to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of reliability and resilience options and select the most desirable based on several factors, including customer survivability. This assessment includes visuals depicting options and their relative values given overall impact and customer survivability.

Non-registered users may access the report here. The HSDL offers many related resources. Visit the Featured Topics for more on Cyber Infrastructure Protection, Energy Security, Hurricanes, and Earthquakes.