The North American power grid is a modern engineering marvel, and yet at the same time it is increasingly a system facing great risk of being disrupted by adverse events. Nearly all of the critical infrastructure elements upon which Americans rely are dependent upon the grid’s persistent supply of widely available and relatively affordable electrical power.
Many of the most important ongoing grid modernization and infrastructure improvements currently underway are focused on the development of a so-called “smart grid” that can (among other facets) better track power usage, measure it against traditional usage patterns, and identify anomalies. But long-term solutions must manage shared risks so that solutions do not slip between segments and sectors where governance gaps exist and direct responsibilities are unclear.
As aging infrastructure is replaced and updated, embedding resilience within the electrical grid requires three main categories of investment: 1) managing and meeting overall demand to help avoid an adverse event; 2) expanding alternatives or substitute systems before and after an event; and 3) enabling rapid reconstitution if and when a disruption does occur.
Five specific strategies for minimizing the impacts of disruptions are discussed:
• Redundant Capabilities;
• Robust Supplies of Standardized, Interchangeable Spare Parts;
• Substitute Systems;
• Implementing Peak Demand Management;
• Incorporating Strategic Priorities for Diversifying Critical Capabilities.
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