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Grid resiliency can add intelligence to power networks

SUBNET Solutions Inc | Thursday, July 19, 2012

The North American power network has been said to be one of the most impressive machines ever built, but it will only remain so if the grid is outfitted with technologies to make it more resilient, increasing overall reliability, Energy Collective reports.

According to the news source, aging electric infrastructure around the country is now merging with new smart grid technologies, such as remote access, which leave it especially vulnerable to failures and power disruptions. The bulk of these failures can be traced back to the use of wires in older systems. Although burying them in the ground would help protect the grid from physical dangers, they would still be vulnerable to cyber attacks that would have the power to cripple assets at power plants and substations.

"In other words, we need to think about building a grid in an era when power outages could be the electrical equivalent of internet denial of service attacks," wrote smart grid consultant Christine Hertzog. "In that perspective, putting wires underground to eliminate service disruptions is akin to slapping a fresh coat of paint on a 20 year old car.  It will improve appearance, but it won’t improve overall resiliency."

Hertzog added that it will be crucial to take a new look at grid reliability in the near future and determine how to create a resilient system. This could be done through new policies, as well as a system of metrics of utility performance.

According to the media outlet, resiliency will be necessary for mission-critical operations. This can be accomplished by incorporating self-healing smart grid technologies into the grid, as well as redundant equipment. All over the country, utilities are beginning to take this step, with many using self-healing systems to perform real-time detection and isolation of power problems.

These problems may come in many forms, including cyber attack, human error or any natural disaster. However, a more resilient grid can promise a faster recovery, and allow utilities to perform better services after such an event.

SUBNET's Unified Fault File Management helps utilities capture data about a power disturbance and automatically deliver it to Protection Operation Personnel within minutes. The system can be used to collect, archive and view all fault records using advanced filtering and query capabilities to quickly find desired records. 

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