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USGS Research Maps Geoelectric Hazards to the Grid

image credit: Credit: NASA
DW Keefer's picture
Journalist Independent Journalist and Analyst

DW Keefer is a Denver-based energy journalist who writes extensively for national and international publications on all forms of electric power generation, utility regulation, business models...

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  • Mar 23, 2020
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The U.S. Geological Survey released a report on geoelectric hazards for two-thirds of the U.S., from the northeast to the west coast.

The research includes a map of voltages that would be induced on the national electric power grid by a geomagnetic superstorm. Jim Reilly, USGS director, said the information will better enable utility companies to evaluate the vulnerability of their power-grid systems to magnetic storms and take steps to improve grid resilience.

The research shows that geologic structure is an important factor affecting storm-induced voltages on the power grid.

In particular, the map shows that due to electrically resistive rock, there is high hazard in the northern Midwest and, notably, in the Piedmont formation east of the Appalachian Mountains, an area adjacent to many of the nation's largest cities.

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