insights - August 2016 - (Page 1)

insights Power Grid Publication of Sosland Publishing Co. Vulnerability Sponsored by INTL FCStone Inc. The Power Grid Part 1: How vulnerable is the North American power grid to failure? Nearly EVERYTHING we depend on requires electricity, from a single porch light in rural Iowa to a flour mill in Kansas to a milk processor in California to futures trading in Chicago. But the North American power grid is showing its age - and its vulnerability. How reliable is it today? What threats does it face and how serious are they? The answers may surprise you. K KANSAS CITY - Electricity powers just about every facet of modern life. It charges computers, tablets and cell phones. It runs furnaces and refrigerators in people's homes. It lights factories and office buildings. And it animates the machines that manufacture our goods and that process our food supply. In fact, electricity's reach is so pervasive that most people take its availability for granted - save when a storm makes the lights flicker on and off. But how reliable is it? The answer: Not as reliable as it used to be. That's because the North American power grid faces a number of threats today - from aging infrastructure to increased vulnerability to natural and man-made disasters. These vulnerabilities can manifest themselves in forms as small as a tree limb knocking out power to an individual residence to a hurricane or an act of terrorism blacking out an entire region. Events on this latter scale and above can create critical impacts such as disrupting local economies, threatening public safety and even compromising the food supply. The purpose of this paper is to provide an understanding of how the North American power grid produces and delivers electricity, and to examine its vulnerability to natural and man-made threats - both intentional and accidental. A Brief Primer on the Power Grid A power grid is an interconnected network of smaller electrical networks that deliver power from producers and suppliers to consumers. It consists of generating stations, high-voltage transmission lines, substations, transformers, lower-voltage distribution lines and ultimately a specific service voltage for individual customers. Regarding scale, the term "power grid" can refer to a network that spans an entire continent or country, or refer only to a local utility's distribution system. 1

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of insights - August 2016

insights - August 2016