Electrical Grid Resiliency – What It Means for You

We all have heard it in the news. Blackouts, rolling blackouts, and brownouts happen around the country in response to various exceptional weather events. Storms, heat waves, cold snaps, and wildfires take their toll on electric utilities, demonstrating their vulnerability.   While the causes of these events are a subject of debate, one thing is certain. The electrical grid system in the United States is aging, and more stresses come upon it as it ages. And although the grid is 99.9% stable, it is operating closer to its limits of stability. 

Challenges at Hand

Aging Infrastructure

The U.S. energy infrastructure faces a number of challenges. The most pressing one is the aging electric grid which can not keep up with growing energy demands. This leads to sudden power outages or planned disruptions such as brownouts or rolling blackouts. 

  • A blackout is an unexpected loss of power lasting from minutes to days. It is usually the result of storm damage or a surge in demand that overloads the grid.
  • Rolling blackouts are planned by utility companies and are limited-time events. Utilities use rolling blackouts to prevent grid overload during times of peak demand. Consumers are advised when their service area will be affected by the blackout.
  • A brownout is a planned event to prevent a blackout. The utility company reduces voltage by 10-25% to prevent a system overload during periods of increased demand. A brownout is short-term with a set beginning and end time.

According to a U.S. Department of Energy report in 2015, 70% of the country’s transmission lines are more than 25 years old. Sixty percent of circuit breakers are more than 30 years old. “The age of these components degrades their ability to withstand physical stresses and can result in higher failure rates,” the DOE wrote in its report. Likewise, the 2021 report card for America’s infrastructure, produced by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gave the country a C- grade. It noted that 60% of the electricity distribution lines in the U.S. have outlived their 50-year life expectancy. To maintain a grid that delivers electricity reliably, $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion will need to be spent by 2030 to modernize the grid.

Renewable Energy

The use of renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, is gaining popularity as the world moves toward a zero-carbon energy future. Despite their advantages, these energy sources can also imbalance the electric grid because they are weather-dependent and unpredictable. A grid imbalance happens when energy production is up and usage is down, or vice versa. For example, a windy night turns wind turbines, but consumption is down while people are sleeping. This is exacerbated by the lack of efficient systems to store this energy during periods of lower demand. To avoid this, measures must be taken to predict how much renewable energy will be available and how it should be used so that imbalances in the electric grid are minimized.

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

The rapid growth of electric vehicle use is another power grid challenge. Updated infrastructure, at a cost of billions of dollars, will be needed to support EV use because of the unique strain EVs put on the existing grid. A full vehicle charge using a supercharger consumes as much electricity as starting 70 air-conditioning units all at once. And with over 26 million EVs predicted to be on U.S. roads by 2030, new fast charging stations must be installed, existing ones must be upgraded, and a lot of energy will need to be produced. It is also possible that the demand for EVs could increase faster than expected, meaning the load problem will have to be addressed soon. Currently, there needs to be more investment in EV infrastructure to accommodate the predicted wave of EV sales by 2030.

A Solution Within Reach

Most of these challenges are beyond the reach of the common person to solve. But we all rely on electricity. Is there any way to ensure you have a dependable energy source for your farm or business? Having an emergency generator protects your perishable goods, livestock, schedule, lifestyle, and peace of mind. Whether your power is off due to a storm or a grid failure, whether you are at home or away, an emergency generator stands by 24/7, ready to protect the moment it is needed. 

HooverTec is prepared to be your single-source provider of turn-key emergency generator systems that meet application-specific emissions requirements. We offer power system consulting, project design, and generator system sizing based on your load profile. Contact us to find out how you can keep your work energized.

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