13 Electric Power

In 2000, the National Academy of Engineering named modern power grids—those vast electrical power generation, transmission, and distribution networks that span the country—the top engineering technology of the twentieth century. According to the Academy's opinion, the Power Grid surpassed the invention of the automobile, airplane, moon shot, atomic bomb, delivery of safe and abundant water, and electronics as the most important engineering accomplishment. Electrical power is what makes modern society tick. It is essential. So it comes as no surprise that the grid is one of the fundamental infrastructures of the United States.

In this chapter, you will learn the following concepts and be able to apply them to the challenge of electrical power grid risk analysis:

  1. Blackouts are increasing: The frequency and size of power outages have been rising exponentially since deregulation in 1992. This increase is traced to a number of factors, including, but not limited to, underinvestment in transmission and distribution, deregulation of utilities resulting in loss of control, and network topology—rising self-organized criticality (SOC) due to the Grid's wiring diagram.
  2. Deregulated utilities: Historically, the components of power—generation, transmission, distribution, load (consumption), and SCADA control—have been owned and operated by vertically integrated utility companies. Since 1992, these vertically integrated monopolies have been disaggregated and decoupled ...

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