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New Role for Regional Grid Managers

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John Benson's picture
Senior Consultant Microgrid Labs

PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE: Microgrid Labs, Inc. Advisor: 2014 to Present Developed product plans, conceptual and preliminary designs for projects, performed industry surveys and developed...

  • Member since 2013
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  • Aug 18, 2020

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Last weekend there was a major lightning storm in and around the San Francisco Bay Area. This post contains the whole story, and a new role that grid managers should perform to evaluate the future likelihood of similar perfect storms.

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Dr. Amal Khashab's picture
Dr. Amal Khashab on Aug 18, 2020

Good observations.

But if you are a local grid manger what are your plans to mitigate this situation?

I think the first step  is to be prepare by: 

- maintain standby generating units.

- load shedding schedules in rotating short periods.

- make sure trees branches cutting had been done before.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 18, 2020

The focus on action ahead of time needs to be greater, just like so many of the measures you point out. An ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure, as they say!

John Benson's picture
John Benson on Aug 19, 2020

Thanks for the comments, guys.

Since I've been heavily involved in specifying power application software for large utilities like CAISO, PJM, TVA, etc. I know that they spend a huge amount of time modeling the probability of various events. However, the event described in this post is "off the grid" of what they probably consider possible. Furthermore it has (ongoing) major impacts on load (exceptional HVAC loads) and grid reliability (several lightning-sparked major wildfires in the Bay Area currently). This has happened before in California with periodic hurricane-force north-winds that drive wildfires, and we now understand that climate change has created complex changes in our weather that facilitated these north winds in the late Summer to early Fall and have adapted (hello PG&E grid-hardening and PSPS events),

The question is are events like the one described in this paper another new normal, will they increase in frequency with climate change, or are they indeed very rare, and likely to remain so? CAISO needs to collaborate with climatologists and meteorologists to find out.


John Benson's picture
John Benson on Aug 23, 2020

The event described by this post sparked over 100 wildfires, and some of these have grown to be among the  largest in California history. Two links, the first is an excellent USA Today Article on these, and the second is ato the CAL FIRE incident website. One other thing, today and tonight we are expecting some additional thunderstorms (another tropical storm died). The good news is that they should not be as bad as those last weekend, but they can disrupt the existing firefighting.


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