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UT Arlington Research Experiences for Teachers in Engineering

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Research Experiences for Teachers in Hazard Mitigation

Power System Blackout and Restoration

power lineFaculty Mentor: Dr. Wei-Jen Lee

Hazard Type:
Power System Blackout

2010 Teacher Participants
Susan Patterson
Claudia Smith

2009 Teacher Participants
Joe Feldstein
Joel Hernandez
Danielle Reynolds

2008 Teacher Participants
Vicki Buffalo

The electrical power system in the US has been named as "the supreme engineering achievement of the 20th century" by the National Academy of Sciences. The nation's electric generation, transmission, and distribution grid is a very complex system that delivers electricity into hundreds of millions of customers each day. The ability of this system to provide reliable and affordable electricity is the backbone of the American economy.

While the grid is a technological marvel, it is also reaching the limit of its ability to meet the nation's electricity needs. In addition, our nation is moving into the digital information age that demands higher reliability from the nation's aging electrical delivery system. Americans are witnessing the results of this conflict in an increasing number of regional blackouts. A massive power failure hit the northeastern United States and part of Canada at approximately 4:11 PM (Eastern Time), August 14, 2003 and served as a wake-up call for this urgent situation. It took only nine (9) seconds for the blackout to spread across Canada and several US states affecting more than 50 million people.  Some went without power for more than three days.

It is impossible to design a system that can be completely immune to catastrophic failures such as blackouts.  However, with proper planning and development, it is possible to reduce the frequency and intensity of such failures with speedy recovery.

Each participating teacher will be taught the fundamental of power system, power system operation, protection, and control to understand the root causes of system blackout and the procedures for system restoration.