Restoring Power After Hurricane Katrina Will be Difficult

IEEE-USA Today's Engineer, in the article Katrina Poses Extreme Challenges for Power Engineers by Greg Hill, discussed the efforts required to restore electrical power in the hurricane devastated areas with electrical power engineers Harold Adams (Dominion Resources Services) and Jack Casazza (an IEEE Life Fellow who was a corporate officer for PSE&G).

They explained that utility engineers will face transportation difficulties while trying to assess the situation. The engineers will identify damaged sections of the electrical network that forms regional electric grids. They will determine what sections are still working and then formulate the best way to reconnect them to restore the maximum amount of power as quickly as possible. They must do this in such a way as to insure that the network remains stable under changing conditions. This complex task has to be done with limited manpower and equipment. The article discusses how engineers in Mississippi will handle this situation.

The article lists factors that affect the robustness of electrical systems in severe weather conditions and notes that while redundancy, design criteria and good maintenance can make restoration easier, it is very difficult to fully protect systems against storm surges, flooding and flying debris.

The article ends by listing safety tips for individuals dealing with electrical outages and downed services.

If your facility is in an area that could be affected by severe weather, Katrina Poses Extreme Challenges for Power Engineers is a must-read.