Customers without electricity for days or weeks? Does that happen in the United States of America in the 21st Century? Increasingly, the answer is yes.
Electricity is fundamental to the health, safety and economic vitality of our country…it is the critical infrastructure that must function for other infrastructure to function. Communications, water purification and distribution, sewage collection and treatment, safe ground and air transportation, medical services, physical security and more do not function without a reliable and resilient electric system.
The backbone of the nation’s critical infrastructure, the electric system, has failed at critical times. Unfortunately, we are seeing that our electric grid is not as resilient as we need it to be. How can we build a better, stronger and more resilient electric grid that serves us when we need it most?
T&D asset owners can start by evaluating the total cost of ownership of poles and wires that fail after major events. Next, planners and engineers must address long-term system resiliency for individual circuits, corridors, and communities. The economic and social impact to communities needs to be incorporated into the overall assessment. Finally, the industry needs to embark upon a progressive investment program to harden critical elements of the grid, including strategically undergrounding select transmission and distribution lines.
This new paradigm of prudent investment will prepare us for the high impact storms, wildfires and other events of the future and dramatically reduce the negative impacts on life, property, social fabric and the economy.
Robert Kondziolka, Governing Body Member
CAISO Western Energy Imbalance Market (EIM)