Resiliency Is More Than Hardening and Redundancy
Improving Grid Resilience Through Situational Awareness
by Eric J. Charette
The nation’s reliance on the electric grid has never been higher than today. With threats to the grid increasing in frequency and impact, the pressure is on utilities to ensure they are making the most prudent improvements to provide the availability of electricity. Traditionally, these investments have hardened the infrastructure based on reactionary evaluation of previous grid performance. Recently, some progressive utilities are taking a more proactive position by emphasizing their overall preparedness. They prioritize developing their business continuity plans and focusing on ways to minimize the impact of a threat and how they can return to normal conditions faster.
The concept of having a more resilient grid is now in every major utility’s grid modernization plan as a parallel path to infrastructure hardening. They are evaluating proven reliability metrics and factoring resiliency into their strategies to address their response to high-consequence threats to the grid. This extension of a disaster recovery plan precludes a threat by placing more emphasis on preparation so that once the disruption occurs, the grid can absorb the disruption more. Then the utility can quickly implement its command structure and begin the recovery phase, with a target to restore power more efficiently by following the resiliency plans.
The technology behind a more resilient grid involves having the most current, relevant information accessible to ensure situational awareness is part of decision-making. A common operating picture is a way to present actionable information as it integrates data from both internal and external sources in an easy-to-consume format. It also enables cross-jurisdictional, multi-agency secure collaboration with external agencies under a shared goal of restoration. The common operating picture is also a vital part of planning as a tool for executing training plans, tabletop exercises, and document management of the procedures for storm response. The notion of process improvement through better situational awareness in times of grid disruptions certainly represents an innovative approach to facilitating faster response and recovery.
As the technology for common operating picture platforms continues to mature, new use cases continue to be introduced that promote the everyday use of the application. This extends the solution’s value beyond threat response and ensures that all users are well-versed in extracting the data they need during critical moments. In addition, the common operating picture should now be deployed at every utility as part of their grid resiliency plans, serving as an input into situational awareness.
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