Home Emergency Management News A Look Back at Hurricane Sandy's Impact on New York's Power Grid

A Look Back at Hurricane Sandy's Impact on New York's Power Grid

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Research aims to increase power grid resiliency against future storms

A recent study from Georgia Tech researchers examined how Super Storm Sandy impacted the New York power grid in an effort to determine how to make the grid more resilient against future storms.

The study analyzed power failures in New York associated with Super Storm Sandy that ultimately affected more than 600,000 customers across four different major service regions in the state. The research is believed to be the largest in-depth study of failure reports for distribution power grids that made use of real data.

While a relatively small percentage (about one-fifth) of distribution grid failures accounted for the vast majority (more than 80 percent) of affected customers, the reverse was true when talking about cost impact.

According to the study, a group that totaled 89 percent of small failures collectively resulted in more than half (56 percent) of the overall cost in the form of 28 million customer interruption hours. So, while a small group of grid failures impacted the majority of customers, it was the collective group of small grid failures that really bloated the recovery costs from the the hurricane.

Image couresy of Georgia Tech
Image couresy of Georgia Tech

Future storms & power grid recovery

The Georgia Tech researchers noted that, because grid failures that affected small groups of customers collectively accounted for more than half the outage impact, the "traditional" recovery strategy restoring service by prioritizing repairs to substations and other major facilities may no longer be the correct path to recovery.

"If you are just going after the big failures, the effect will be limited because there are just too many small ones that cannot be restored quickly. Together, small failures were significant in the total down time of customers." -- Chuanyi Ji, associate professor in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology

Matt Mills Matt Mills has been involved in various aspects of online media, both on the editorial side and on the technology side, for more than 16 years. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism, and is currently involved in multiple projects focused on innovation journalism.