LBNL Finds Downward Trend in Grid Reliability
> AS THE ELECTRICAL GRID gets smarter
and the number of severe weather
events increases, many may wonder
about the reliability of the U.S. electrical
power system. A group of researchers
put together some hard numbers on the
matter and concluded that many areas
Researchers at Lawrence Berkeley
National Laboratory (LBNL) and
Stanford University recently completed
a comprehensive analysis of electricity
reliability in the United States. “Assessing
Changes in the Reliability of the U.S.
Electric Power System” finds that the
annual amount of time customers are
without power has been increasing yearly.
In the report’s abstract, the
researchers refer to a number of
“statistically significant” correlations,
all of which point to a direct
relationship between the increases
in severe weather events and power
interruptions. The numbers suggest the
duration of power interruptions has
gone up over time, and severe weather
is the culprit.
“This finding suggests that
increasingly severe weather events are
linked to a 5–10 percent increase in the
total number of minutes customers are
without power each year,” said Peter
Larsen, lead author of the analysis and
LBNL research scientist, in a news release.
The researchers used up to 13 years of
information for a large cross-section of U.S.
utilities, representing 70 percent of U.S.
electricity sales and customers. The report
examines outages both large and small,
and a clear trend begins to emerge when
looking at the big picture of electrical
reliability over the last decade and beyond.
“We hope the findings from the
study will provide a more solid basis
upon which to ground future private
and public decisions on the long-term
reliability of the U.S. electric power
system,” said Joseph Eto, co-author and
LBNL staff scientist
The entire analysis can be read
—MAT T KRAUS
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