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IEEE MANAGEMENT R.t:VIEW. VOL. .'39. NO.4, FOUR.TII QUAR.TER., l>ECEMliER.

aon
Not Your Father's Y2K: Preparing
the North American Power Grid for
the Perfect Solar Storm
COOPER
- BENJAVIIN K. SOVACOOL
Abst ract - Solar storms have the potential to inJlict massive damage to
the North American electricity infrastructure. Policymakers and utilities
should begin to coordinate efforts /0 prozecr vulnerable components.
prepare system operators and automate protective opemncncl
procedures.
Th e electrtctty journal by El.SEVJI<:R INC..
Reproduced wtth perrnrss ton of
INC. In the format J ourna l via Copyrtgh t
Cleara nce center.
I. INTRODUCTION
F ORI two days in February
20 IO. sen ior government officials
a nd a handful of representa tives
from select publtc-prtvate entities
from t he United St ates, Sweden ,
and the European Union quie tly
gathered at the David Skaggs
Resea rch Cente r in Boulder. Colo.
They had been ca lled toget her
by the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) and
t he Department of Homeland
Secu rity (DHS) to s imulate what
would ha ppen if. as t hey were
meeting. the Nort h American
bu lk power system were s truck
by a s eve re solar storm.
The results we re sobering. Wit h in
t he first h our. the s imulated
storm wo u ld cause cascading
power outages t hroughout t h e
eastern a nd mid-Atlantic U.S. and
eastern Canada. Power siations
across the northern hemis phere
would report n umerou s
step-up and transmission
transformer failu res. La cking
back-up transformers and
with Virt u a lly no domestic
manufacturtng capability. re pai rs
a n d re placements wo uld take
several weeks. wit h fu ll gri d
recovery taking at least six
months. Within the fir s t few
days . emergency response
personnel would face critical
Infras t ruct u re fall u re as water
dtstrtbuuon. sewage. medical
care. phone service. a nd fuel
s u pply syste ms co lla psed. Service
di s rupti on of sa te llite and GPS
communications would severely
hamper emergency response
a nd re covery . Util ity workers in
affected populated areas soon
would aban don t heir posts to be
wi t h their fa milies as civil society
crumbled a round t hem. i
It might be easy to di smis s th is
scenario as more the synopsis
of a Holl ywood big-budget
di s as ter Hick t han the realistic
assessment of t he world's best
emergency management experts.
But the gro u p's fin dings were
enough to co mpel Brtt at n's chief
science advisor t o warn t hat a
severe solar s torm cou ld lead to
a "globa l Ka trtna" cost ing t he
wo rld's economies as much as $2
trtllton.:'
Solar s torms in the for m
of coron a l mass ejections
(CMEI-superheated gas and
charged particles d ischa rged
fro m t he sun- have t he potential
to inflict massive damage on
electrici ty infrastructure. As
the FEMA a nd DHS s imu lation
revea led . c urrents indu ced
by a CME can impair t he
securi ty a nd performance of
h igh-volt age transmission lin es .
commu n ica ti on satellit es. GPS
n aviga ti on syste ms, data cen te rs.
and air traffic control factlt t tes.:'
They can cause la rge vol ta ge
' 0 IEE E ENGINEEIUNG MANAGEMENT REVIEW, VOL. 39 . NO. 4. FOURTIi QUARTER. DECEMBER 2011
differences between grou nd ing
points in power lines and for ce
a huge a mount of DC power
t hrough system components
incapable of handling it.
Some of the world's best solar
researchers ha ve co ncluded tha t
the pl anet is overd ue for a severe
solar storm. They warn that the
chance for a major geomagneuc
d is tu rbance is increasing as the
sun is en t ering it s n ext solar
maximum." Recently. NOAA's
Space Weather Pr edicti on Cent er
has observed s igns of s ign ificant
acuvtty. al erting the s tart of
the new solar cycle (cycl e #24).
Some scien tists a re predict ing
storm intensities similar to the
most powerful CME events since
t hey were fir st recognized in
1859. Addi ng to t his concern
is the su rprise d iscovery in
2007 of a breach in the earth's
protective magnetosph ere that
has contributed to predictions
tha t cycle #24 co u ld be far more
destructive t han a ny recorded in
h u ma n htstory."
Indeed, in Jun e 20 10, t he Space
Weat her Enterprise Forum
ISWEFj, a coalition of federa l
agency a nd pri vate-sector s pace
officials engaged in monitoring
space weather a nd its effec ts on
critical civil and national secu ri ty
Infrastructure. Issu ed a report
stating tha t the pot ential impacts
of s pace weat her a re n ot widely
known or poorly underst ood. As
a result . the st udy cautioned
that the na ti on is not ready for
an extreme weather event , n or
is it prepared t o cope with the
nationwi de Impact s that would
result from even a solar s to r m
of mod est stze." One SWEF
participant. FEMA Adminis trator
W, Craig Fumate. gave hi s
0\V11 agency poor grades for Its
prepared ness for catast rophic
solar storms a nd declared that
the nation was in dire need of
better foreca s ting , preparation
and coordtnatton. "
This a rticl e begins by explaining
briefly how CMEs are formed
before di scus sing the Impact of
s pace weather on transmission
lines . transformer s . grid s tab ility,
a n d the entire el ectricity
syste m . It t hen proposes a
set of eigh t recommendations
tha t poltcymakers a n d u tility
planners in the United States
land elsewhere) can take
to minimize system -wide
vulnerabilities to sola r storms,
Thes e suggestions include
a ugmenting NERC reliability
standa rds a n d requiri ng better
solar s torm forecasti ng, as well
as eslablish ing an early warn ing
and a lert system a nd improving
sit uationa l awaren ess al utilities
t hrough fas ter data acqu isi tion
an d more complex a nalysis
communicated t o operators. We
a lso recommend fas ter control
of syste m componen ts t h rough
a utomate d voltage co n trol a n d
power flow management a t bot h
the t ra nsmission and distri bu tion
level s , a n d adaptive adjus tment of
protective mech anisms th rough
embedded intelligent devices
capable of providing dynamic
selective load sheddi ng a nd
inten t iona l Islanding." Finally,
we call on the federal gover n ment
t o Invest in local manufact urtng
of system co mponen t s a nd to
provide adequate fu nd ing t o
coordinate gover nment efforts at
responding to solar storms.
II. A BRIEF PRIMER ON SPACE
WEATHER
To under s tand the risk posed by
s pace weather, it is neces sary
to understand the n ature and
magni tude of th e threat. The
sun's surface Is a veritable
caldron of white-hot matter more
t u rbu lent tha n a nyt hi ng on th is
pl anet. Sunspots---dark a reas
on the solar s urface-are small
eddies a long colossal solar river s
where s trong ma gn etic fiel ds
constantly s hift . When grou ps
of these planet-sized s pots
converge, complex solar-magnetic
fields collide and release solar
nares , int ense sparks of magnetic
energy violently spat into t he
cosmos.
Despite the powerfu l turbulen ce
in the sun's corona (its outer most
layer). most ma gn eti c c urrents
t hat try to lea p out int o s pace
a re overwh elmed by t he s u n's
s heer mass . Gravity forces these
currents to bend back into the
corona. creati ng great loops of
int ens e energy. Sometimes. a s
magnetic fields on the corona
co nverge a nd shift . a magnetic
field wi ll suddenly s nap wi t h
enough force to break the looped
current like a d ry twi g. This
violent reaction hurl s a ma s s of
charged particl es . a CME, Int o
space and. so metimes, dir ec tly
toward t he eart h .
I n what came to be known
as "The Carrington Event. ..
the planet's skies erup ted
in c uroms so brilliant they
could be seen asJar south
as El Salvador and the
Bahamas.
A large CME can contain a
billion t ons of matter in a long
trail traveling a t several mlllion
miles pe r hou r through t he sola r
system. 10 TIle shock wave of a
particularly viole nt CME can
accelerate charged particles to
n ear the speed of light. At this
s peed. geomagnetic di sturbances
fr om CMEs can be felt on earth
within an hour of their eruption
from the s un's surface.
1\vo h is torica l events put the
likely impact of future CMEs in to
stark perspecti ve. Resea rc hers
NOTYOUR FAnl EffS Y2K: PREPARINGTIIF. NOR11l AMERICANI'OWER GRl/l FORlllE PF.IWECT SOIAH STORM
have determined that the CME
associated with one strong solar
stor m In 1859 co n ta ined as many
as 101b grams of charged material
traveling at 2.300 kilometers per
second. "! In what came to be
known as "Th e Carrington Event .~
named after the solar astronomer
RIchard Ca rri ngt on who first
observed it, th e pl a net' s skies
erupted in auroras so brilliant
they cou ld be seen a s far south
as EI Sa lvador and the Bahamas.
Though elect rica l t rans mi s sion
was not widespread . te legra ph
systems went haywire. s hocki ng
t elegra ph opera t ors a nd settin g
some wires on fire . Even when
operators di sconnected the
batteries powering t he lines . for
several hours they could s t ill
transmit mes sages .P The s ola r
storm was so powerful that New
Yorkers repu t edly co u ld read thei r
newspapers at midnight by the
brilliance of t h e aurora crea t ed as
the charged particles bombarded
the planet's atmos phere. A 2008
report published by the National
Academy of Scien ces fou nd that
a s tor m of s imila r intensity today
cou ld requ ire a decade to fu lly
recover from and produce up to
$2 tril lion in damages .J:l
More than a century after the
Ca rri ngton Event. a t 2:44 a.m.
on Mar. 13 , 1989. a geomagneti c
storm caused the Hydro-Qu ebec
power gri d to co llapse within
90 secon ds a n d left millions
of people without el ectricity
for as long a s nine hours . A
powerful CME s truck the earth
and generat ed a la rge impulse
in the magnet os phere a long t he
U.S.-eanadian borde r. Elect rical
currents Ind uced by the storm
created intense harmonic voltages
on the Hyd ro -Quebec n etwork.
Volt age d ropped so prectpttously
that all five hi gh-voltage lines
between La Grande and Montreal
tripped and 9. 450 MW of
gen eration evaporated nea rly
instant aneousl y . While the
syste m was des ign ed t o shed
excess load automatically.
protective con t rols we re never
des igned to recover fro m a los s
equ ivalent t o n early half of the
syst em . As a resu lt . wi t h in 25
seconds the rest of the gr id
collapsed.
Rec ent a nd more syst ematic
a n a lysis of impulsi ve
di s t urbances like thos e that
st ruck Quebec In 1989 reveal
that anal ysts h ave ten ded t o
underestimate t he inte nsity of
these s t orms. An a n alysis of
both contemporary and hi storic
st or m data indicate s impulsi ve
di sturbances la rger than 2000
nT/minute have hit the earth
on a t least three occa sions s ince
19 72 a t latitud es tha t would
affect the North Ameri can bulk
power syste m.! -I This intensity is
ro ugh ly fou r times la rger than
the levels ex perienced in Quebec
in March 1989 . NERC esti ma tes
that. in extreme scenari os.
di sturbance levels as high as
5. 000 nT/minute (ro ugh ly 10
times la rger tha n t he di sturbance
levels observed in 1989) may have
occurred during a geo magne tic
storm in May 1921 .
As the high-voltage s ystem
has grown in complexity.
if has become increasingly
s usceptibte to these
geomagnetic dis turbances.
Were a s tor m capable of
producing 5. 000 nT/minut e
of energy to occur today. th e
Nort h American bulk power
system wo u ld ex peri ence
Impact s fa r beyond a ny
the industry ha s previously
constdered . P Furthermore,
Quebec's experience disclosed
a n in convenient truth a bou t
t he ability of sola r s to rms t o
di srupt modern power syste ms:
a s gri ds bec ome significa n t ly
more dependent on disparate
co mpon en ts to wheel power a nd
maintain voltage across longer
di stances . t hey become more
vu lnerab le t o fu ture geomagnetic
st orms. It>
III. THE THREAT TO ELECTRICI TY
INFRASTRUCTURE
For many system manage rs . the
th reat of a perfect solar stor m
is as ra re a n d remote as the
t hreat of a n aste roid collision , It
is an even t of s uch low frequen cy
a nd unimaginable impact t ha t it
rarely kee ps t hem awake at n igh t.
But the pot ential consequences
a nd in evit a bil ity of a powerfu l
CME a rc not hyp erbole.
The impact of a maj or solar
s tor m on t he North American
el ec tricity infrastructure wo u ld
be particularly damaging to
high-voltage transmis s ion lines.
transformers. a n d overall grid
stability,
A High-Voltage Transmission
Lines High-volt age transmission
gri ds a re vu lnerable to
geo magnetic events because
they act a lmost like a n antenna
during a solar s torm. Such
networks have multiple grou nd
points where DC cu rrents
could en te r t he system a long
t he earth's n orth-s outh axis.
Between t he late 1950s and the
early 1980s . the hi gh-voltage
transmis si on grid (as we ll as
annual energy usage] grew nearly
lO-fold . Yet as the hi gh-voltage
system ha s grown in co mplex ity.
it has become increasingly
s uscep uble to these geomagne tic
dis turbances ,
In the 19 50s . for example. des ign
t h resholds limit ed the operati ng
level s of high -voltage lines to
100- 200 kV. Today. operating
level s are routinely 345 kV t o
765 kV. TIle ratio of resistances
I EEE ENGINEERING MA1' lAGEMENT REVIEW, VOL 31f. NO. 4. FOURni gUARTER DECEMBER 20 11
varies stgn ttlcant ly wit h each level
of volt age. Thus , for exa mple ,
resi s tance Is approxi mately
10 times lower for a 765 kV
line compared wit h a I lS kV
line, In genera l. these lower
resi st ances mean t hat during a
severe s pace weat her event, the
highest -volt age lines (765 kV)
....i ll be 10 times more vulnera ble
to Induced cu rrents t han the
lowes t-volt age (I 15 kV) lmes . !"
Moreover, the evolution of
open access regulation s has
encou raged t he trans port of
greater a mo unts of energy
acros s lon ger dista nces. One
unintended consequence of
these long-di stance power
t rans fers Is t he need to wheel
la rger a mo unts of energy over
greater di s tances . III These lon ger
distances neces sitate higher
voltage which, in turn, places
them at elevated risk t o severe
space weather .!"
B. T ransformers Transmission
lines are not the only
vulnerabtltty. Transformers
experience exc essive Inte rnal
hcaung when currents sa t urate
t he t rans former 's magn eti c core.
Researchers already have found
t hai transformers have shorter
average wor king lifetimes In
regions wit h greater geomagnetic
s torm acttvt ty. The Nort heaster n
region of t he u.s. wtth the
hi ghest rates of geomagnetic
acuvtty experiences, on average,
60 percent more t rans former
Iatlures .s'' Transformer failure
ra tes a lso appear to foll ow t he
l J-year sola r cycle. As sola r
activity Increases, t here fore,
Nort h American system opera tors
s hou ld expect an Increa s ing
number of t rans for mer fai lures
regardless of the Intens ity of a ny
stngle solar s tor m.
Extra -high -voltage (EHV)
transfor me rs introduce a n
additional conce rn. Th etr
design ac ts to compou nd the
effects of Induced cu rrents,
especially a long the hi gh-volt age
portion of the grtd. Whil e EHV
t ransformers wou ld be subject
to proportionately higher llows
of Ind uced current, t hey burn
out a t the same curren t levels
as lower -volt age t ransformers.
During a powerful sol ar s tor m,
t herefore, EHV t rans for mers
wou ld become saturated more
quickly t han t ransformers used
In lower-voltage po rti ons of the
grtd. ?'
One s imulation co nducted In
2007, for example, found that
a geomagnet ic di sturbance of
4,800 nT/ mtnute wou ld damage
beyond repair the cores of over
350 transformers , Including 97
percent of all EHV transformers
In New Hampshire, 82 pe rcent In
New J ersey, 72 percent In Oregon ,
40 pe rcent in Washingt on, a nd
between 24 a nd75 percent of EHV
transfor mers in every s tate a long
t he eastern seaboard from So ut h
Carolina to Maine (Figure II .
NERC warns that damage on
s uch a wide scale could prolon g
restoration of the bulk power grid
and lead to long-ter m chronic
F ' ~ u n I : Percent of EHV Tran sfor mers at RIsk from a 4.800 nT/min u te Oeomagnett c Dis turbance.
Source : NERC, 2010
NOT YOUR FATI1ER'S Y2K: PREPARlNG TI-lE NORTI-I AMEHICAN roWER GRID F O ~ TIlE ! ' ERn : cr SOlAR STORM
shortage s of U.S. elect ricity
supply for multiple yea rs .rz
This dire prediction is based on
utility experience over a number
of years that transformers
generally cannot be repaired
In the field. They have to be
replaced with new unit s. An d
though some limited syst em
component manufa cturing
capacity exi sts in North America.
nea rly all trans forme rs a re
currently manufactured offshore.
Replacement unit s cost more
th an $ 10 million and can take
12 to 24 months to procure. P
Moreover. each transformer (even
from the same manufa cturer] can
contain s u btle desi gn variations.
Not only do thes e va ria t ions
complicate attempts to calculate
which tran sformers a re most
likely t o be vulnerable to induced
currents. they also co mpou n d
the challenges a n d increase the
time necessary t o ma n u factu re
replacement s .>'
C. Grid Stabllity In essence.
these vulnerabilities with
transmission lines a n d
transformers mean t hat t he
way the bulk powe r grid cu rren t ly
st abil izes vol t age increa s es
the ri sk of widespread outa ge s
from a s evere solar stor m.
Syst em operators must maintain
voltage wi thin a narrow ra nge by
balancing the s u pply and demand
of reactive power in t he electrical
syst em. Rea c tive powe r is created
when cu rren t and voltage in a n
alt ernating current system a re
not in pha se d ue to in teractions
wtth e lect ric a nd magnetic fields
aro u nd system components.
Reactive power is often referred
to a s VARS (for volt a mperes
re active) . Generally. u tilit ies
generate VARS as a product of
greater re al power output from
centra l generation s tations or
by in stalling expensive dynamic
ca pacitors a t various point s a long
t he transmission line.
25
EHV transformers
increase the risk of
voltage in s t abilit y.
especially along the
highvoltage portions of
the grid.
EI1V transfor mers increase
the ri sk of vol tage instability,
especia lly along t he hi gh-vol t age
portion s of t he grid. Fiel d test s
by t he Electric Power Research
In stitute (EPRII have confirmed
t hat the DC cu rrents induced
du ri ng sola r stor ms cause
transformers to consu me greater
amount s of reactive power. "
Si nce los s of reactive power by a
transfor mer is a fu nction of it s
operati ng volt age, proportionately
hi gher-voltage tra nsfor mers will
experience hi gher re active power
los ses . A 765 kV transfor mer.
for instance. will lose almost six
ti mes the reacti ve powe r a s a
115 kV t ransformer experiencing
the same induc ed current. As a
res u lt, EHV transformers t hat
a re fried by a p owerful sola r
storm will create greater volt age
instabilit ies when they burn out
t h a n lowe r-voltage tra nsfor mers.
The ir loss is more likel y t o trigger
catast rophic vo ltage instability
tha t co u ld t hr ea ten the reliabilit y
of the entire system .
Indeed. the major cause of
blackouts among developed
coun tries over t h e past 20 years
h a s not been the la ck of ra w
power n eeded t o meet increa sing
demand. Major blackouts ha ve
more likely been precipitated
by volt age instability caused
by a los s of rea ct tve powe r in
lon g transmission \lnes . In fact.
loss of reactive power was a
significant causal fa ct or in major
power outages worldwi de from
19 78 to 2003. Volt age colla pse
from los s of reactive power was
res ponsible for blackou ts on the
We s t Coa s t of the United Sta t es
on July 2 , 1996, and Aug. 10 .
1996. a n d also fact ored into
major blackouts in Paris (1978).
Tokyo (19 87) , Quebec (I 989),
and London (2003), as well a s
in Sweden. Denmark. and Ita ly
during the 2003 European h eat
wave. F
As both the 1989 Quebec a nd
2003 East Coast blackouts
demonstrated, if voltage drops
too low, some genera tors will
automatically d isconnect t o
protect t h ems elves . This los s
in genera tion cau ses remotely
s u pplied rea ctive power to drop
as we ll. necessitating greater
line charging to make up t he
difference. This line c hargi ng (a
measure desi gned to protect the
system) ri sks creating a positive
feedback loop. As lines are
cha rged to make up for t he la c k
of rea ctive power. current s pikes
and causes more gen era t or s t o
trip offline. neces sitating more
current to make up for even
grea ter loss es in reactive power.
The res u ll is a pro gres sive a n d
uncontrolla ble syst em colla pse
much lik e the one that b rough t
down la rge portions of the
northeast power gri d in 2003.
2
::1
D. System-Wide Operational
Procedures Taken individua lly.
the t hreats of a sola r s tor m to
transmission lines. transformers ,
and reactive power migh t
be ma n agea ble. But when
combined, they create a
sys tem-wi de vu lnera bility
that utility operators can n o
longer ignore.
A s tu dy carried ou t under the
a uspices of t he El ect romagn etic
Puls e Commission fou n d that a
seve re s pace wea t her event has
t he potential t o cause permanent
damage to t h e nation' s power
I EF.E ENGINEERING MANAGEMENT REVIEW. VOL. 39. NO.4. FOURTII gUARTER, DECEMBER 2011
grid requiring. "extraordt nartly
long restoration times ." 2!J This
is partly becaus e existi ng
equipment desi gn codes a re not
adopted wit h an eye t o re ducing
the flow of induced cu rrents from
severe geomagnetic di sturbances.
Ins tead. U.S. grid operational
procedures generally are designed
to boos t operational re serves in
t he event of a major system
disturbance." These procedures
do little t o prevent or reduce the
threat of induced cu rren ts. They
may even exace rbat e the risk
of complete syste m failure. In
fact. the kinds of over- cu rren t
protecti ons that system ope rators
cu rren tly employ are likely to
cause many of the t echnologies
t hat system operators re ly upon
(shunt capacito rs, static VAR
compensators. etc.) to t ri p during
a maj or geomagnetic dis t u rbance.
At t he same time, the los s of
a s ignifican t number of EHV
transfor mers in any geographical
area will likely exacerbate voltage
instability a long t he high -volt age
port ions of the grid. Si nce a ll
of t hese effects are likely t o
occ ur nearly simultaneously. the
modern hi gh-vol t age elec tricity
grid Is at greater risk of a
cascading voltage collapse unlike
a ny previous ly experienced
(FIgure 2).:1l Add to t his risk t he
large power transfers facilitated
by t he evolution of open access
poli cies . and it is easy to recognize
how modern gri d operators would
be faced with the los s of
multi ple prot ecti ve capacities
that they rely on currently to
s tabilize t he system. Without
several protective elemen ts
pre-positioned at s t rategic
locations, system operators
would be virt ua lly powerles s t o
prevent a widespread voltage
colla pse and the as sociated
syste m-wide blackout. 32
IV. RECOMMENDATIONS
Electric u t iliti es and transmis s ion
system operato rs need not
wa it pas sively for the perfect
solar st orm. A series of eight
recommendations . adopted as
part of a compre hensive s t ra tegy.
could address many of the threats
a large CME imposes on criti cal
parts of t he Nort h American bulk
power system.
A. Incorporate Solar Storms
Into NERC Reliability
Standards Both the private
a nd publi c sect ors may not
fully u nders ta nd the level of
tnt erconnectt vtty of critical
In frast ructures and could
there fore fail to grasp the
enormity of the threat posed by
severe s pace weather. 33 Uti lities
are not cu rrently required t o
meet any mandatory U.S. or
int ernational codes or regulati ons
for protecting power grids from
the effects of solar s torms.P"
NERC s ta ndards requi re utilities
to test their systems to prove
they can wit hstand a n umber
of con ti ngencies. includi ng the
simult a ne ous los s of up to two
critical Infrastructure assets.
But not hing in NERC reliability
standa rds requires utilities to
s imula te a solar event of the scale
that forecaster s warn is not only
possible, but inevit able.
Whil e u t ilities have s trong
incentives to identify system
vulnerabilities and protect cri tical
assets. none are required to model
the risks that a severe solar sto r m
would pose to syst em reliabili ty.
Figure 2 : Areas of Potential System Collapse During a 4.800 nT jminute Geomagnetic Disturbance.
Source : NERC, 2010
NOTYOUR FAlllEIf S Y2K: PREPARING1lIE voxt u AMERICAN 1'O\\,'ER GRID r ONlllE PERFECT SOlAR STOHM
Sin ce 1983. when EPRI developed
the first computer s imu la tions
of Induced curren ts. comput er
mod el s ha ve become tncrea smgly
sophis ticated . Today's models
should be capable of si mula ti ng
the reli abilit y effect s of In duced
cu rrents wtr h unpreced ent ed
accu racy" Util ities a nd regional
transmission organlzattons
should u tili ze better co mpu ter
model tng to Ide n ti fy how Induced
currents from solar storms at a
vari et y of inten sit ies \1.111 affect
cri tical system components
at the local di stribution a nd
regional trans mi ssi on level s .
In addition . utilities s hou ld
ra n k s ubstat ions. trans formers.
and capaci tor banks ba sed
on thei r vu lnerab ilit ies to
Induced currents under d ifferent
scenarios.
Highly rellahle
near-term forecasts
of solar stonns and
eartb-threatenlng CMEs
would provide critical
advanced warning to
grid operators.
NEHC s hou ld ma ndat e that
transmis s ion companies Install
su pplemental t ransfor mer
neutral ground resistors to
reduce c urrent flows th rough
EHV transformers that mod e ls
predict are the mos t vulnerab le.
These resi s t ors are relatively
Inexpensi ve. requi re lil lie
addit ional engi neering, a nd ca n
reduce induced cu rrents by
60--70 percent. regardless of
storm tntenstty.>"
EPRI has s t ud ied how taking
preca utions to protect rel ati vely
few vuln erabl e transformers in
a ny t hreatened service a rea docs
wry littl e to reduct' the risk to
th e overall system.J; Therefore.
it is essential tha t u t ilities
a nd region al transmission
orga n tza t tons coordi nate efforts
to protec t transfor mers from the
effec ts of severe s ola r s tor ms. One
Idea is for b ulk power s u ppliers
to develop a nd ex pand backup
eq ui pment s haring programs .
pa ying s pecia l attention to the
s haring of EHV trans formers
between at -rtsk gri d syste ms a nd
thos e lea s t likel y t o be affected
du ri ng; a severe s torm,
B. Improve Solar Storm
Forecasting Highly re liable
near-t erm forecasts of sola r
storms a nd ea rt h -t hreatening
CMEs would provid e cri tical
advanced warning to grid
operators. Give n even IS minutes
of notice. system operators can
reduce generation in northern
la ti t udes . s pi n up ge nerati ng
units in souther n latit udes.
offload t hreate ned transformers
a nd direc t pers onnel to the
most vu lnerable system
tnfra s t ructure.:" Wit h adequate
warning. inde pe ndent system
operators cou ld reduce powe r
transfers between adj acen t
systems a nd cancel plan ned
mai n te na n ce work to red uce
the di rec t costs a nd secondary
Impacts of major geomagn et ic
dtst urbances.s"
Currently. NOAA's Space weather
Pred iction Center ISWPCj
can predict. wi t h modera te
confi dence. t he probab illty of a
solar storm one to th ree days
in advance . Bu t the Cen ter
doc s not ha ve the a bility to
forecast s to r ms t hat cou ld hit
t he eart h in a matter of hours . ~ o
Indeed. accordi ng to a recent
Na tional Research Cou ncil {NHe)
assessment of n ational s pace
weather prediction capacity. the
United States h as no satisfac tory
short -te rm forecast or war n ing
capab ilities, I I
The SWPC re lies on data from
NASA's Advanced Compos it ion
Expl orer lACE). a sate llite
launched in 1997 t o monitor sola r
winds a nd s pace weather from
the LI liberation point (roughly
the point 1.5 mill ion kil ome ters
from the eart h) where t he s u n
a nd th e earth's gravitat ional
pulls a re In eq uilibrium. Us ing
data from ACE . SWPC modelers
cu rrently can provtde about an
hou r's wa rning wit h a hi gh leve l
of co n fidence.n There is some
co ncern. however. t hat ACE Is
nea ring t he e nd of its operational
life.U NASA headquarters h as
warned that . after I I years.
ACE's detector heads are losing
senstuvtty and are vulnerable to
elect ronic fai lu re . Nevert heless.
NASA has n o pl an In place t o
replace some of Its funcuons .:"
On Feb. II. 2010. NASA did.
however. launch the Solar
Dynamics Obse rvatory (SDO).
which provides continuous
data on some s pace weat her
wi th only a IS-mi n ute del ay .
Scientists h ave developed a
n ew data a n al ysi s technique
that uses elect ro n particle flux
mea s u rement s fro m SOO sensors
to pred ict the arrival times of
charged particles fr om sola r
eve nts. This a dvancement holds
the possib ility of forecas ting
in near real time . when solar
s tor ms a re likely 10 harm c ritical
tnfrastructure.:" NASA shou ld be
encouraged to pursue th is option
while developing longer -te rm
pla ns for replacing a nd improvi ng
ACE's fu nctions.
In the s hort term. the NRC.
SWPC. a nd NASA s hou ld be
c ha rged wi th developing a
compre hensive capabtlny for
nea r-real -time forecast ing of
the mos t risky CMEs u s ing
ex isti ng sate llite assets, The
agencies a lso shou ld prepa re
recommendations to Congress for
fund ing additional assets capable
of providing accurate rea l-li me
lEU: ENGINU: R1NG MANAGEMEl'IT REVU;W. VOl. . 39, NO.4. rousru QUARll-:R. 20 11
a lerts of a ll maj or s pace weat he r
events.
Special operational
schemes designed to
protect the grid lack
the ability to adapt as a
solar event.
c. Upgrade Solar Storm Early
Warning and Alert Systems
Following t he March 1989 s torm.
Hydro-Quebec Install ed an
active communications software
package on syste m operator
consoles that provides each of the
Northeast Power Coordina ti ng
Cou nc il Coordinat ors wit h
geomagnetic ston n a lerts as well
as the s tatus of all sola r ac tivity.
When alert ed of a geomagnetic
storm of sufficient int en si ty.
the softwa re triggers visual and
audible alar ms. A main screen
provides the system operator
wit h all Information currently
known abou t t he possible s olar
threat and a dial og box permit s
instantaneous commu nication
among all re liability coordinators
of a ny observed geomagnetic
phenomenon. "
TIlt" effect iveness of SWPC a lerts
was tested d urtng an October
2003 CME that t hreatened the
nort heastern U.S. power gri d. The
test reveal ed significa nt s hort fal ls
In the syst em's acc uracy.
Because t he SWPC reli es on
ground-based magnetometer
stations in Boulder. Colo.. a nd
Fredericksburg. Va. (both In
mid-latit udes). S\VPC analys ts
must collect a nd average multiple
magnetometer samples In order
to predi ct the Intensity of
prospective geomagnetic eve nts.
Duri ng the Oc tober 2003 storm.
th is meant t hat SWPC's estimates
of t he storm's Int ensi ty lagged
be hi nd effects al ready bei ng felt
on t he gri d a t higher latit udes .
For exa mple. monito rs located
along t he affected gri d measured
Induced currents tha t exceeded
the levels foreca st by SWPC 38
minutes later. t"
North American utilities s hould
Install system operator consoles
that communicate real -time.
accurate Information about
space weather Intens ity a nd
trajectory provided by the SWPC.
111e SWPC s hou ld coordinate
Wi t h North Ame ri can syste m
operators to forecast s torm
Int ens ity and t raject ory ba sed.
In pa rt . on mea surements
from a n array of high -la tit ude
magn et omet ers . NERC s hould
a lso coordinate wnh the SWPC
to test t he effectrve ness of this
system a t provtdrng greater
s it ua tiona l awar eness under
normal operati ng conditions.
D. Use Smarter Grid
TeChnologies to Improve
Situational Awareness As
the bulk transmis s ion syste m
expands in s ize a nd complexi ty.
system operators face conditions
tha t a re more diff icult to
anticipat e. mod el. and counter .
Whil e many utiUties have s pe nt
s ubs tantia l a mounts Ins taill ng
phasor measurement unit s
(PMU) a nd collect mg rea l-time
data on syste m stat us, this
t orrent of data can overwhelm
many operators. As more da ta Is
produced a nd di s seminat ed . It
creates a challenge for operators
to find the bus that t hey need
a nd process them quickly enough
to make prudent decis ions.
And once they h ave formulated
a plan of action . most operators
a re limited to ustng conventional
power now co ntrols employi ng
mechanical switches that are
slow. Inflexible. a nd vul nerable to
wea r.?"
Improving s ituational awareness
woul d allow system operators
to react more qutckly t o t hreats
from solar stor ms and other
geo magnetic dis turbances.
The more rapidly system
operators can Intervene. t he
more likely that they can avert
a bl ackout. 50 Unde r s ome
emergency situations. eve n the
most s easoned system operator
has limits . Researchers at
Carnegie Mellon University have
built models t hat reveal tha t
advanced automatic control
syste ms that communicate with
on e a no t her Ind ependent of
the ope rator can res pond more
effectively.51 gulck respons e may
be crt uca l tn preventing a minor
ou tage from becoming a maj or
bl ackout. An improved ability to
respond more quickly using more
complex system Information
significantly Increases system
resili ency a nd could s ubstantially
mitigate the impact s of a severe
solar storm.v
E. Expand Automatic Protective
Mechanisms Currently. special
operational schemes desi gn ed to
protect t he grid lack t he a bility to
adapt as a solar eve nt Is affecting
different parts of the system, 53
A s marter grid Is capable of
data analysis and near -real -tl me
coordination of cont rol actions
tha t co uld provtde greater
protecti on during a mas s ive
geomagnetic dis turbance.
especially If organized on a
regional or nation al scale.
For some time. grid operators
have employed a tri age a pproach
t o widespread syste m failure.
tncl udtng removing 01" s acrt tlc tng
small portions of the system
to save the whole. So me
regiona l sys tem ope rators.
for example. have turned to
emerge ncy load s hedding as a
mech a ni sm t o protect networks
from system dis turbances.
Selective load s hedding is a
utility's method of reducing
dema nd on the trans mission
----- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - ........
NOTYOUH Y2K: I' REI'ARlJliG rue NOHTll I'OWEH earn f a N ' 1It: I' EIU'"E(:T SOlAR STORM
system by temporari ly swttch tng
off th e distribu tion of el ectricity
to specific customers. The u tility
pays customers t hat are wtll tng
to ha ve t heir service interrupted
durtng a grtd emergency. Facing
rolllng bl a ckouts in 2007.
ERCOT, for example, devel oped
an Emergency lnterru puble Load
Shedding (ElLS ) progra m that
pays qualified customers to
power down du rt ng an emergency
tha t threa tens t he ERcar grid .""
Voltage stability is
critical to preventing
transformer losses from
triggering cascading
voltage collapse.
SUII. participation in contracted
load shedding schemes is limited .
typically re pre sem mg less than 5
percent of a system's peak load. s''
Additionally, most emergency
load s hedding s t lll re lies on a
rel atively s low proces s , with
system operators conferri ng
to decide whether to deploy
emergen cy tnt errupuble loa ds
a nd call tng qualified customers,
who t hen ha ve a set period of
time from recetvtng the call to
con tact rel eva nt personnel wi th
tnstrucuons to power down.s"
This proee s s Is inhe rently s low,
unreliabl e a nd dependent on
communica t ions systems tha t
a re t hemselves at risk during a
maj or solar s torm.
Recently, u ti lities have
experimented wnh smart grid
compo nents like Intelligent feeder
switches and real -time pro tecti ve
devi ces that can Isolate fa u lts
a nd switch to on-s ue e lec t rtcal
storage devices or di stributed
generation u nits wit hout needing
to walt for s upervisory control
and data acquisition ISCADA)
commands from network control
centers. This technique. known
as dynamtc Islanding, generally
ha s been used in areas wi t h
frequent e lectrical outages, where
loa d centers a re fed by older
lines and aging Infrastructu re
or areas where dense vegetation
can come in to contact wi t h
electrtcal lines a nd cause
transmi s sion tn terru puons.?"
But the ex pa nsion of advanced
met ering infra s truc ture IAMI)
co u ld make dynamic isla nding
a more practical method
for reacti ng to system-wide
d ist urbances by automating the
process of remotely managing
customer loa ds . Given sufflcrent
development a nd deployment of
AMI. ut ili ties will be a ble to create
Isl ands at wi ll. Thus . cr itical loads
such as hos pitals . poli ce s tations.
water treat ment faci lities,
transportation fu el distribution
nodes. and control centers
t hemselves can maintain power
while Ihe system strategically
reduces power flows to less
crtucalload centers."
Improved a ut omation that
a llows more strategic dynarntc
Islanding is especially critical In
preventing secondary Impa cts
to Interdependent systems.lil t
Dynamic islanding of critical
Infrastruct ure min imizes the time
needed to restore t he system,
mtt tga tes secon dary effects.
and Increases survtvabtltty."!
Ea rly deploymen t of s mar t grid
co mponen ts a n d prepos it tcntng of
distributed ge neratton. If planned
carefully. also can benefit
uti lities beyond sefeguardt ng
crtttcal tnfra s truc t u re. Dynamic
isl anding can provide an
immedi a te fix for a problematic
network or s hort -term extension
of a portion of an aging network.
a llowi ng utilit ie s to defer capital
tnves tmen t a u ntil they a re
more convenie nt or fiscally
tmpera n ve.li Z
A s ma rt e r grid provides u ti liti es
and system operators wt th
a bett er way to Implement
emergency load shedding and
dynamic Islanding in res pon se
to severe solar s tor ms . It would
harness modern commu n ication
and IT tnfrastructures t o provt de
Instantaneous bt -dtrecuonal
com rnurur-atton a mong co nt rol
centers a nd grid co mpo nen ts. A
smarter grtd ca n process vast
numbers of data transactions
and delive r sub-second responses
to system components designed
to implement emergency loa d
s hedding more quickly and
s t rategically.(;:\
When a lerted to a n approach ing
solar stor m, co nt rol rooms
cou ld launch co mputer mod el s
that simula te th e path of
ind uced currents under specific
conditions. These simulations
can hel p system operators
Identify the most vulnerable
assets and determine a strategic
load s hedding scheme to
protect th em, TIle s mart
grid can then communicate
a u to matically to begin powering
down interruptible loads a nd
commanding co nnected assets
to take protective measures. By
facil itating a n automated and
dynamic response. a s marter
grid could react more qutckly to
protec t only vul nerable assets
wh ile main taining opt imal service
(u nder the ci rcu mstances) t o
cri tical loa d centers. This faster
a n d more dyn a mic res pon s e
ensures 1<.'88 service tn terrupuon
du ri ng a severe solar storm and
far les s recovery after one.
F. Automate Volt age
Stabillzation Voltage stability Is
critical to preventi ng transformer
los s es from triggeri ng cascading
voltage co llapse th a t risks
brtnging down la rge porttons of
th e bulk power grid. Typically.
operators regulate voltage co ntrol
devices with locally available
measurement s of voltage
I E ~ : E ENGI NEERl NG MANAGEMF.NT IUWIEW. VOL. 39. NO. 4 . FOIJH.TI I gUAH.TER DECEMBER 20 I I
and c u rren t. On lines with
multiple voltage regulation and
VAR compensation devices , each
device Is controlled Independently
without regard for the resulting
consequences of action taken by
ot her co nt rol devices . This ca n
lead to probl ems when trying: to
regulate large voltage fluctua tions
wt thtn a geographically broad
area.v'
Smart gri d a ppl tca uons a llow
voltage and VAR con trol devi ces
to share infonnatlon a nd
evaluate co mpre hensive control
strategies a u tomatically t o
opti mize voltage s tabilization
during a crt s ts . Accel erated
adoption of s ubstation a nd feeder
automation tec hnology. cou pled
with the widespread deployment
of AMI , would lay the grou ndwork
for automated control syste ms
to optimize volt a ge con t ro l In
real time. Recent Innovations In
contingency modeling In complex
networks holds t he promise of
rapidly identifying opLlmal volt a ge
a nd VAR operation s t rategies
from millions. If not billions, of
operational possibilities.b . ~
G. Invest In Domestic
Manufacturing of System
Components As pa rt of this
comprehensive strategy to
prepare for a severe so la r
storm, the federal government
s hould pursue efforts to bring
more of the s u pply chain
a nd manufacturing base for
crtuca l sy s te m components like
transformers. shunt ca pacit ors.
and static VAR compensators
back to the United States. In
addition. the governmen t s hould
expand funding a nd accele rate
research and devel opment of
next-generation power conversion
technologies like gallium nitride
transformer s that can Increa se
effi ciency wh ile providing greater
capacity to withs t and large
DC cu rrents Induced by solar
storms.f" This research not
only would help to Jump-start a
domest ic component industry. It
would ensure that spa re parts
and key system technoloates are
more available tn the even t of a
severe solar storm.
H. Coordinate Policy
Action The SWPC is the
only governmental e n tHy
c harged wi th coord tnaung
space weather forecasting.
But there Is no s ingle a gency
responsible for coordina ti ng
space weather Information
across agencies. re portin g
actionable alerts to affected
industries. and ove rseeing a
system-wide emergency response.
Responstbtltty for various aspects
of CME preparedness is scattered
throughout the U.S. federal
government . Con s equ en t ly.
affected industries rely on
data haphazardly gleaned
fro m multiple government
offices. fore ign governments,
International agencies. and t he
private sector.fi7
The SWPC s hou ld be charged
wit h developing. in co nsultation
wit h pu b lic a nd priva t e sector
stakeholders, an acti on pla n
10 deliver by 20 12 accurate
near-rea l-ti me a lerts a nd
short - and long-term space
weather forecas t s . However.
to ensure that a ll of these
recommendations are adopted as
part of a comprehensive strategy
to prepare the North American
bulk power system for a severe
solar storm. we propose that
Congres s or the President require
the White House Office of Science
and Technology Poli cy (OSTPJ to
develop a plan for coo rd ina ti ng
accurate, sustainable operational
mea surements of sola r acu vny
through a cent ral office wi th
operational authortty t o Is sue
comprehensive forecasts a n d
a lerts a nd to coord inate
emergency respon se across
affected utilities and the mu lti ple
jurtsdtctrons and government
agencies already charged with
regulating critical Infras tructu re.
The SWPC operates with a very
small and unpredictable a nnual
budget of less than S6 million
land modest additi ona l fu nding
from the Un ited States Air Force
for data preparation associated
with selected operations). The
National Research Council has
charactertzed this insubstantial
appropriation as "more reflective
of a research and development
(R&D) enterprtse than an
operational enterprise with
realtime national space weather
prediction res ponsibi lity .~ 6 l I
Despite benefiting di rectly
from SWPC's modeli ng and
forecasting reports . the other
51.,< agencies t hat participa te
In t he National Space Wea th er
Program {NSWP)-NASA. the
Department of Commerce. t he
National Science Foundation. t he
De pa rtmen t of the In te ri or, the
De pa rtment of Energy. and the
Depa rtment of State--cu rren tly
do not co nt ri b ute t o SWPC's
operating b udget. Congress
s hou ld fu lly fund SWPC
eit her t hrough a dedicated
a ppropriation or a n nu a l
permanent funding from each
of t he participating agencies. or
both . This fun di n g s hould refl ect
t he Important role the Ce nter
wi ll assume in prepari ng the
nation for a potential electrical
ca ta s t rophe.
V. CONCLUSION
President J immy Carter once
wrote that the United States
either could develop a na ti onal
energy policy in an "tntutttve
a n d planned way. ~ or reactively
when "forced to" by "chaos" and
the "laws of nature.r'" Gi ven the
likelihood that the nation (indeed
NOTYOUR FAll-IEKS Y2K: PREPARING 11I E NOR11l AMERICAN POWER GRID FOR TIlE PERFECT SOt.t.R
the pl anet) wi ll fa ce a severe
solar s torm with potentia lly
devastati ng co nsequen ces.?'' h is
commen ts s uggest t hat we ha ve
a rare opport u n ity to a void, or a t
least mitigate. impending di saster
throu gh carefu l pla nning a nd
preparation.
The h is tory of pa st solar
storms-e-events inducing
telegraphs to ca tc h fir e In
1859 a nd causing the Canadia n
grid t o collapse In 1989-should
be enough t o convince readers
of t he vu ln erability of our
transmtsst on lines . tra nsformers ,
and voltage controls to sola r
acttvtty. Ra ther than reac t ,
however. pl anners a nd syste m
ENDNOTES
opera to rs can res pond proacti vel y
by strengthening NERC reliability
s tandards t o Incorporate the
probablHty of sola r s tor ms
a nd by making Invest men ts In
more re llable nea r-term s pace
weather forecasts. An active
sola r storm early wamt ng a nd
a lert system wo u ld help warn
syste m operators before an event
a nd coordin a te respons es a fte r
It. Perhaps most s ignificantly.
Investments in s mart gr td
tech nologies. a utomated
prot ec tive mechanisms a nd
voltage stab tltzat ton systems
land t heir domestic man u fact u re)
s imu ltaneou s ly wo u ld improve
grid restltency and efficiency.
Ins titutiona lly, t he Space
Weather Prediction Ce nter shou ld
be better fu nded a nd t he Wh ile
House Office of Scie nce a nd
Tec h nology Polt cy s hou ld develop
a n actio n pl an for h andling a
s erious sola r storm. While It
may be difficult during t his ti me
of fiscal auste rity to Imagine
devoti ng substantial fu nd s to a
threat that we ha ve never h ad
to face. a compre hen s ive pla n
to prepare for a severe solar
s to r m will cost far les s now t han
wi ll addressi ng the catastrophic
Impact s t o the North American
elect ricity when the per fect
solar s to r m finally a rrives.
1. The DOE asks tha t the ronowmg di s cl aimer be run: "Th ts report
wa s prepared as an acco u nt of work sponsored by a n agency of the
United Slates Governmen t. Neit her the United Sta tes Governmen t
nor a ny agency thereof. n or a ny of t heir employees . makes a ny
warra nty. ex press or Implied. or assu mes a ny legal lia bili ty or
responsi bility for the accu racy, completeness. or u sefulnes s of any
In for mation. a pparatus. product. or process dis closed. or repres ents
t hat its use wo uld no t infringe privately owned rights. Reference
herein 10 a ny s pecific commerci al product , proces s . or service
by t rade name. trademark, manufact u rer, or ot herwise does not
neces s a rily co nstit u te or Imply Its endorsement. recommenda ti on, or
favoring by the Un ited Stat es Government or a ny age ncy t hereof. TIle
views a nd opinions of aut hors expressed he rein do not necessari ly
s ta te or refl ect t hose of the United Sta t es Gover n ment or a ny agency
the reof."
2 . See Federal Emergency Management Agency IF'EMAl (20 lO).
Ma naging Critical Disasters in the Transaflantic Domain: The Case of
a GeomagnelicSrorm, Workshop Su mmary. Bou lder, CO, Feb . 23-24.
3. J . A10k (201 I I. Sol ar Storms Could Create $2tn 'Globa l Kat rina.'
Warns Ctuef Scienusi. GUARDIAN. Feb. 21. at www.guardtan.co.u k/
sclence/20I I j febj2 I/solar -sto rms-global- kat rl na .
4. A.V. Rlswadkar a n d B. Dobbins {20 lO1. Solar S rorms : Profecting Your
Operations Agains t the S un's '[)ark S ide. ' Zurich Services Corp.,
April 8. a t 2 .
5. See Debe rshtre. D. {201l}. Get ready for a 'globa l Katri na' : BIAAest
ever sola r storm cou ld cause power cu ts which last for MONTHS.
Mall On line. Feb. 2 1. Available at www.dallymail.co.ukjsclencetech j
art 1(' le- 13 591 36 j Global -Kat ri na-Biggest -sola r-s torm-cas e- power -
cuts -MONTHS. html.
6 . See Riswadkar. A.V. a nd Dobbins, B.. s upra note 4, at 4.
.,
50 I EEE ENGI NU:ItlNG MANAGEMEm rU;VIEW, VOL. 39. J',;O. -I . FOURTI-I g UARTER. 20 11
7. Na tiona l Space Wea ther Enterprise For-urn (2010) . 2010 Space
Wea lhC' f Enterprise Forum Summary Repon. National S pace Weather
Program Co uncil. National Pres s Club, Wa shin gton. DC. June 8 . at 2 .
8. l et
9. K. Mosleh t and R. Kumar (20 I 0). Smart Grid: A Reliltbill/y
Per specr ue . Paoc. IEEE PES CONFERENCE ON I NNOVAffi'E SMAHTGRID
TECHNOlOGIES. at 4--7.
10. Federa l Emergency Management Agency lFEMA) , supra note 2 at 8.
II . National Academies of Science (NAS) (2008) . Severe Space Weat her
Events: Understand ing Societal a nd Economic Impacts . Report from
Workshop of Cornnuttee on th e Societal and Economic Impact s
of Severe Space Wea t her Events . Space S tudies Board. Dtvtsron
on Engmeert ng & Physi cal Scie nces. Na ti ona l Re search Cou ncil.
Wa shingt on . DC. May 22-23 . 2008 .
12 . A.V. R tswadkar a n d B. Dobbin s . s upra note 4 at 4 .
13 . See National Academies of Science tNASJ, supra note 11.
14 . Nort h Amer ican Electric Reliability Corporation (NERCl (20 10).
High-Impa ct. Lo w-F'requf.' ncy Ellen! RL..k /0 t he North American
Bulk Power System Su mmary Report of Nort h America n Electric
Reli abiltty Co rporation a n d U_S. Dept. of Energy' s Nov. 9- 10. 2009.
Works hop. J u ne. a t 67-68 .
I 5.ld.
16. ta.. a t 64-65.
17. NERC. s up ra note 14 .
18 . Na tional Academies of Science (NAS). supra not e II . a t 18 .
19 . NERC. supra not e 14. a t 70.
20. Riswadkar and Dobbi n s . s upra note 4. at 6 .
21 . Nort h American Elect ric Reliabi lity Corporati on INERCJ, supra note
14 . a t 70 .
22. Id.. a t 74.
23 . Id .. at 98.
24 . Id.. a t 7 1.
25. One way to concept ualize the difference between real powe r (current)
a nd rea c tive power (volt age) Is to t hi n k of a n e lectrical transmis si on
and dis tribution system much like modern plumbi ng. Concetve of
cu rrent as t he a ctual water flowing t h rough t he com plex network
of pipes a n d volt age a s the wate r pres sure in a ny give n pipe. Now
Ima gin e tha t someone made a s mall puncture somewhere In the
pt ptng system. in t he grand sch eme of a mumctpaltty's water
system. the a mount of water seepi ng t hro ugh t his s mall hol e may
not repre sent an importa nt loss . But the wa te r pres sure lost a s a
res u lt of even a small pu ncture is orders of ma gnitude grea ter a n d
can substantia lly under mine t he a bilit y of the syste m to deliver
water t o customers. Without adequate pre ssure. wa ter ca n not reach
customers further away from the central s our ce. no mail er how
muc h act ual wate r t here is .
26. L. va n der Zel {20 I I}, TIl e Effects oj Solar Flares on Critical
I nj rasl nlct ure. I RENt:w. GRJl) 12. J an. 8 .
27. See Federal Energy Regulat ory Com mission (200 5). Principlesjor
E.Did ellf. I?el iable Reacfi pe Power Supply and Consumption, Staff
Report . Docket No. AD05-1 000. Feb. 4 .
28. See C. Cooper (fort hcomtngj . Know If When You See It : A Heurist ic
Approach to Energy Security. ENERGY POUCY.
29. NERC. supra note 14. a t 77.
30 . Id.
3 1. Id.. a t 7 1- 72 .
NOTYOUR 'ATI IERS Y2K: PREPARINGTIiE: NORTIl AMERICAN I'O....'ER GRID f OR PERfECT SOLAH STORM
32. See Space \'.'('tlt her Impacts on the Electri c Power System by
Fra nk KO/.a of PJ M lnterconnecuon In Appendix C of High-Impact.
Low- Frequency Event Risk to the North American Bulk Power Sys tem.
Su mmary Report of North American Electric Reuabtluy Corpora tion
a nd U.S. Dept. of Energy's Nov. 9- 10. 2009. Workshop. June 2010.
a t 108-109.
33. Federal Emergency Management (FEMAJ, s upra note 2 . at 13 .
34 . Riswadkar a nd Dobbins . supra nol l' 4. a t 7.
35. Va n der Zel. supra not e 26. at 9 .
36. NERC. supra note 14. a t 79.
37. Van der zel . supra note 26 . a t 9 .
38. NAS. supra not e I I . a t 56.
39. l d.. a t 72 (qucttng ISO New England Vice Presiden t James
McGovern).
40.ld.. a t 4 .
41. Id.. at 72.
42 . NAS. supra not e II. at 47.
43. Id.. a t 67.
44. While t he NASA Authorizati on Act (House Ru le 6063. Section 110 I)
charges t he Office of Science a nd Tech no logy Polley to wo rk wtth
NOAAa nd other federal agencies a nd Industry to devel op a plan for
sustain ing solar wtnd measurements In the absence of ACE. NOAA
re ports that they h ave no dear replacement in site. See NERC. supra
not e 14 . a t 87.
45. NAS. supra note I I. a t 37.
46 . NERC. supra note 14 . a t 63.
47. NAS. supra not e 1I. a t 53-54.
48 . St aff {2009}. S ituat ional Awaren es s wi th PMU: GeoslXlHal
Visualization oJ Massive Dote. Space-Time l n stght . July. a t I.
49.J. Haller, ef of. {2007j , Advanced Transmission Technologies .
Na ti onal Transmlsston Grtd Study. at www.smartgrtdnews.com/
a rt man /uploads/ l/sgnr_2007_12034. pdf.
50. l d. a t F 21.
5 1. M.G. Morgan. et al. f2009J. The Many Meani.ngs oj "Snmrt
Grid. Brt t-Iing Note from Dept. of Engineering & Public Pettey.
Car negie Mell on Unlv .. July. a t www.epp.cmu.edu /publlc<lUons/
Polley_Bri eCSma rt Grid_July_09 .pdf.
52. J . Shortle a nd C. Chen (20 I0) . \rVhat Can Lead to (1 Wid e-Scale
Blackout ? SIGMA J .. Sept. 15.
53. Mosleht a nd Kumar. sup ra note 9. a t 7.
54. Ha uer et al .. s upra note 49. at F-21. F-22.
55. Incidentally. ERCOT first successfully deployed Its ElLS plan on Feb.
2. 20 11. In res ponse to the sudden loss of 7.000 MW of generation.
s imilar In s ize to wha t sy s tem operato rs ha ve already faced durtng
severe sol ar storms. See C. Ral sh (2008). ERCar Emeryency
Inrerruptil)le IAad Sennce. AEIC Load Research Workshop. Feb.
26 . at www.aelc.org/ load]esearc h/docs/l I_ ERCOT_Emerp;ency_
Interuptlbl e_Load_Sen1ce .pdf.
56. fd.
57. See Ralsh. supra note 55. at Slide 19 .
58. A. Noural and D. Kea rns (20101. Bouertes Incl uded: Realizing Sman
Grid Goals with Int elligent Energy Srorage. IEEE PoWER &
MaL / April. a t 49 .
59. ta.. at 5 1.
60. See E. Okafor. Dynamic Islanding: Improving Electric Serrtcc
Reliability with Energy Srorage. Conference Paper. Sandia National
IEEE MA."AGEMENT REVIEW, VOL. 39. NO, " . fOURTI l QUAR1"'R DEC EMBEH 20 11
Laboratory Ene-rgy Storage Systems Pr ogram lESS) Confe- rence. Nov.
2 . at www.sandla.gov /ess/ docs/pr _C'on fcre nces/20 10/okafor_a ep .
pdf.
6 1. J .A. Hollman, e t al. (2006) . Dynamic Islanding oj Crilical
i nf r ast ructures. a S uit able Strategy to Suruive and Mitigat e Crit ica l
Events. Presentallon at In te-r na ti ona l Works hop on Complex
Net work a nd Infras t ruct ure Prot ection, Rome. Ma r. 28-29, at
www.progettorett.enea.n/ cn tp06 / slides / Ses si on4/ Hall man.pdr.
62 . Nou rai and Kearns , s upra note 58. a t 50.
63. See Moslehl a nd Kumar. s up ra note 9 . a t 4- 7.
64. X. Feng. er al. f2009}. S marter Grid s Are Morc Efficient. ABB REVIEW.
March. at 35.
65. Id.. a t 37.
66. See. for example. M. Briere (2009) . GaN Pla tform Promi ses
TenJold Boost In Power , ELECTIm NIC DESIGN. Feb. 20. a t
/ power / ga n-pl a tform-promts es-
tenfold-boos t-tn -power-2071 7 .aspx.
67. NERC. s upra nol e 14. at 89 .
68. NAS. s upra note I I. a t 69-70 .
69. Quoted In J OHN SCHAEFFER AND DOUG PRAlT. SoIAH LIVI NG
SoURCEBOOK: YOUR COMPLETE G UIDE TO RENEWABLE ENEHGY
TECHNOLOGIESANI> SUSTAI NABLE LIVING (NY : Gatam. 2005). a t 3.
70. NOM Administ rat or Jane Lubchenco rece n tly decl a red that a
major solar s tor m " ts nol a matt er of H, irs s imply a matter of
when a nd how bi g." See C. Moskowit z (20 1I }, U.S. Mus t Take Space
Storm TIlTea! Seriously. Esperts Wa rn. Space.corn . Feb. 19 . a t
www.space.com/ 10906-s pace-sto rms-t hreat. htm l.
Ch rlatopher Coo per Is t he S ma rt Grid Fell ow a t t he III"Wu te for Energy Envt runtuent .
Vermont Law School. II I' ('lUI IX' contacted at {Toopt"r@v,n non tIa w. ed u.
Beaj amJa K. Sov.cool Is a n A.s s tstant Professor a t t he Lee Ku a n Yew School of "ub11o.-
Polley. part of the Nationa l Uruverstt y of Stn ga pcre. He can be con tacted Via ("111.111a l
bsov;l('ou l@nus .rou.s j;{.

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