T the North American Power Grid Faces

Abstract

T THE NORTH AMERICAN POWER GRID FACES MANY CHALLENGES THAT IT WAS NOT designed and engineered to handle. Congestion and atypical power flows threaten to overwhelm the system while demand increases for higher reliability and better security and protection. The potential ramifications of grid failures have never been greater as transport, communications, finance, and other critical infrastructures depend on secure, reliable electricity supplies for energy and control. Because modern infrastructure systems are so highly interconnected, a change in conditions at any one location can have immediate impacts over a wide area, and the effect of a local disturbance even can be magnified as it propagates through a network. Large-scale cascade failures can occur almost instantaneously and with consequences in remote regions or seemingly unrelated businesses. On the North American power grid, for example, transmission lines link all electricity generation and distribution on the continent. Wide-area outages in the late 1990s and summer 2003 underscore the grid's vulnerability to cascading effects. Increased risks due to interdependencies among the critical infrastructures, combined with a purely business focus for service providers, have been recognized, as indicated by Dr. John Marburger, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, before the House Committee on Science on 24 June 2002. ✔ The economy and national security of the United States are becoming increasingly dependent on U.S. and international infrastructures, which themselves are becoming increasingly interdependent. ✔ Deregulation and the growth of competition in key infrastructures have eroded spare infrastructure capacity that served as a useful shock absorber. ✔ Mergers among infrastructure providers have led to further pressures to reduce spare capacity as management has sought to wring out excess costs. ✔ The issue of interdependent and cascading effects among infrastructures has received almost no attention. Practical methods, tools, and technologies based on advances in the fields of computation, control, and communications are allowing power grids and other infrastructures to locally self-regulate, including automatic reconfiguration in the event of failures, threats, or disturbances. It is important to note that the key elements and principles of operation for interconnected power systems were established before the 1960s, before the emergence of extensive computer and communication networks. Computation is now heavily used in all levels of the power network: for planning and optimization, fast local control of equipment, and processing of field data. But coordination across the network happens on a slower timescale. Some coordination occurs …

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Cite this paper

@inproceedings{Marburger2005TTN, title={T the North American Power Grid Faces}, author={John H. Marburger}, year={2005} }