North America’s electric transmission may be an engineering marvel, but that doesn’t make it immune to failure.
Efforts intended merely to harden infrastructure are not enough—the grid also needs to be resilient. Resiliency refers to characteristics of the infrastructure and operations such as strength and the ability to make a fast recovery.
Making system more resilient starts with design changes. Greater deployment of smart grid technology can also help, because automation can reduce the time it takes to restore power. Distributed generation resources and microgrids can also help.
Hardening the distribution system should focus on two objectives: hardening circuits that feed critical loads and load centers, and designing systems to allow for quick restoration.
It’s unrealistic to think that damage to the grid can be avoided when severe storms or other events occur. The goal should be to minimize any adverse impacts. The idea is to “allow the system to fail, but in such a way that it could quickly recover,”