Blackout: What’s wrong with the American grid
Our grid is old. The average substation transformer is 42 years old???two years older than the designed lifespan of a substation transformer. For the most part, our grid hasn???t been modernized???it???s largely mechanical equipment operating a digital world, Clark Gellings said. Perhaps most importantly, the grid isn???t being prepared for the future.
???From 1995-2000, the electricity sector put less than ??? of 1% of net sales into research and development,??? Massoud Amin said. ???In the following six years, that number dropped to less than 2/10 of 1%. We are harvesting the existing infrastructure more and investing less and less in the future.???
Phasor networks are a success story in the making. So are new national rules Gellings told me about, which put a much higher penalty on utility companies that don???t keep their trees trimmed. One untrimmed tree can cost $1 million in fines. All of this will help prevent blackouts of the size we had in 2003. But it doesn???t help deal with what???s coming 20-30 years down the road.
We are almost 10 years removed from the 2003 blackout that crippled the northeast. While a blackout of this magnitude isn’t likely to happen the same way again, our electrical infrastructure in this country is incredibly old.