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Archive >  August 2013 Issue >  Front Page News > 

Sandia to Help Gird Grid Against Future Outages
Hoboken, NJ — Some special help is coming from Sandia for East Coast communities devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The object is to boost the resiliency of their electric grids, so they can be better prepared to deal with natural disasters in the future.

Sandia's Energy Surety Design Methodology (ESDM) is a quantitative, risk-based assessment approach that has been applied at more than 25 sites nationwide, primarily military facilities, in cooperation with more than 20 local and regional utilities.

The first non-military application of the ESDM for an entire community is planned for New Jersey. The Department of Energy, the City of Hoboken and the Public Service Electric & Gas Company (PSE&G) have entered into an agreement for Sandia to assess and then develop strategies and conceptual designs for improving the reliability and resiliency of the local electric grid in an effort to rebuild and upgrade its electricity infrastructure impacted by Sandy. The project is scheduled for completion in the Fall.

Mike Hightower, Sandia project lead, said the evaluation teams will look at low-probability/high-consequence events that have long outage durations, potentially a week or longer, with high impact and damage. These include events like hurricanes and flooding and other natural disasters.

Hightower said the work seeks cost-effective ways to improve the resiliency of the electric grid to ensure that basic services can be maintained for such essential customers as hospitals, critical government services, emergency response and critical

infrastructures.

Sandia senior manager Bob Hwang of Grid Modernization and Military Energy Systems said past projects have demonstrated that the ESDM approach enhances reliability, makes the energy system more resilient and improves renewable and distributed-energy use, while allowing it to operate efficiently in both grid-tied and islanded configurations.

The expectation is to focus the framework on a solution that can bring the power systems up quickly, by strategically placing localized power sources such as generators, solar systems and storage and networked control devices, while hardening the system against power failure, Hwang said.

According to NOAA, prolonged electrical outages, largely because of storms, have been steadily increasing in frequency since 1995. Researchers will look for ways to shore up the Hoboken power grid so it can adapt to and recover from large-scale disruptive events. This will minimize the catastrophic consequences that affect quality of life, economic activity, national security and critical-infrastructure operations, Hwang said.

The work in Hoboken is funded by the Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE).  

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