Tech Insights

Grid Resilience in the Eye of the Storm

March 27, 2023 by Tim Qualheim

Increasingly severe weather events cause concern for an aging grid infrastructure.

In recent weeks, a powerful Nor’easter slammed the east coast of the U.S., while the west coast is reeling from record snowfall and flooding. These dual coast occurrences leave little doubt: Extreme weather events are becoming more common and severe. In fact, nearly 400,000 people were without power due to these events. And with increasing dependency on electricity, the consequences of power outages can be dire.


A snow-covered residence maintaining power. Image used courtesy of S&C Electric Company


Critical Grid Resilience

Our daily lives and our most critical infrastructure depend on reliable power–from home offices and at-home medical care to communications, data centers, electrified fleets, and much more. The slightest interruption in service is no longer just a minor irritation–it can impact jobs, the economy, and even safety and lives.

In this digital world, we have come to expect power 24/7. When there is an interruption, we want power back on right away. This is why grid resiliency is more important than ever. A crucial element of a resilient power grid during storms is the ability to detect and respond to outages quickly.

These severe weather events and the outages they cause shine a bright spotlight on the aging grid infrastructure, particularly the need for hardening and upgrading the distribution grid–the last mile of the grid that delivers power to homes, businesses, and critical infrastructure. To do so, a focus on making the distribution grid more intelligent and automated is needed.


More severe weather threatens the power grid. Image used courtesy of Pixabay


Grid Hardening, Intelligence, and Automation

Tools and technologies are available to make this a reality. For underground residential lines, S&C recently introduced its EdgeRestore system, which reduces the impact of sustained outages that commonly last for hours to 60 seconds or less. This system identifies and isolates faults, restores power, and improves reliability and resilience by reducing sustained power outages.

For overhead lateral lines, fault interrupters and self-resetting reclosers improve overall resiliency by interrupting faults to prevent outages in the first place. When outages do occur, these intelligent, self-healing devices isolate the problem and immediately restore everyone else.

Investing in a resilient distribution grid requires long-term planning and strong partnerships that prioritize the last mile. Intelligent grid technology and infrastructure hardening can minimize the impact of outages and ensure that electricity is delivered reliably and securely to businesses and communities.

As increasing climate change looms and severe weather events result, the critical daily role the distribution grid plays cannot be overlooked. Its resilience and reliability must be prioritized to ensure a sustainable and secure future.