How Will the Blackout Shape the Future of T&D?

Brown, Steven M.
September 2003
Utility Automation;Sep/Oct2003, Vol. 8 Issue 5, p10
The author of this article elaborates on the available technology that will help prevent incidents of electric power outages in the U.S. He also discusses the financial considerations of the needed technological investment. Accordingly, it will take some combination of new physical infrastructure and properly applied technology to bring the power delivery system to a point where it can adequately support current and future demands. Among the power electronic solutions being developed in the power industry is FACTS. In addition, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) are investigating innovative uses of technology that could mitigate cascading outages. PNNL engineers are designing smart chips with the ability to detect the frequency of the power grid. Another innovation from PNNL is the wide-area measurement system (WAMS). WAMS can monitor fluctuations in transmission lines, predict failure-level problems and analyze outage causes. In spite of all this, it has been analyzed that there is a historic lack of capital investment in the electric power grid despite its growing demands. The discrepancy between demand growth and grid expansion makes it possible that grid congestion will continue to be a problem across the U.S. Estimated financial investment needed for the power grid enhancement is anywhere from $5 billion to $10 billion per year over the next decade.


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