The North American electric transmission network is an incredible engineering feat. This intricate system blankets the continent, enabling electricity from power generation stations to reach some of the most remote communities–and every household and business in between. Even so, such a tremendous engineering achievement has the capacity to fail. Take the infamous 1965 blackout1, for example. A chain reaction of power outages starting in Ontario, Canada, cascaded all the way to New York City leaving over 30 million people without electricity. Events such as this illustrate the vulnerability of the North American power grid.

Power Grid Vulnerability

There are numerous threats to the continuous operation of the North American power transmission system, both natural and human. Extreme weather, seismic activity, human error, and subversive acts all pose a serious threat to the distribution of power across the continent. While the Northeast blackout of 1965 may seem in the distant past, power grid disruptions have occurred more recently as well.

Hurricane Katrina in 2005 devastated the network of substations and transmission lines in Southern Louisiana2. Following the storm, substations were rebuilt to be above storm surge levels to improve their ability to resist irreparable damage from future hurricanes, tropical storms, and severe flooding events. The weaknesses of the Northeast power grid were exposed once again in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy. Simply strengthening the transmission grid to withstand such extreme wind and rain may not be enough to prevent future outages.

Preparing the Grid for Emergencies

Creating a robust power grid means designing a system that can withstand more extreme events while also being able to return to normal use quickly should a failure occur. This requires not only an in-depth examination of past failures, but also an understanding of the potential severity of future events. Just as important to preventing outages is being able to swiftly restore power in the event of a grid failure.

When it comes to safe, reliable, and durable power recovery solutions, AZZ knows what it takes to respond effectively to emergency situations. In the event that power is lost, AZZ Emergency Mobile Substations can be deployed at a moment’s notice to minimize the impact of unexpected power outages. With a trailer, skid, and platform-mounted medium voltage switchgear, AZZ can customize solutions to fit any need. Furthermore, AZZ Emergency Mobile Substations are designed for highway transportation and are compliant with the necessary Department of Transportation regulations.

Click here to learn more about AZZ’s Emergency Mobile Substation solutions!

1https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/the-smarter-grid/learning-from-grid-failures-a-conversation-with-nicholas-abisamra

2https://spectrum.ieee.org/energywise/energy/the-smarter-grid/learning-from-grid-failures-a-conversation-with-nicholas-abisamra