The GridWise Alliance issued a call to action to implement greater grid modernization capabilities, as we approach the one-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy. The Alliance's members have been working, and are continuing to work, to make the grid stronger, more reliable, and more resilient in the face of extreme weather events such as Super Storm Sandy. GWA's members compiled a series of recommendations in a report released earlier this year entitled: "Improving Electric Grid Reliability and Resilience: Lessons Learned from Superstorm Sandy and Other Extreme Events" (available at: www.gridwise.org) and are building on those going forward.

"Grid modernization technologies are improving the reliability and resiliency of our electric infrastructure every day. Our industry is continually working to maximize the value from its investments to prevent outages and restore power more quickly when outages do occur," said GridWise Alliance CEO, Becky Harrison.

"This generation of ‘billion dollar storms’ is the new reality our country faces," said Ed Kennedy, President & CEO, Tollgrade Communications, Inc. – a GridWise Alliance member. "Faster restoration and recovery rely in our ability to fortify our grid with intelligence. With more real-time knowledge about the state of our grid, we will be better equipped to respond not only in times of crisis but all the time to build a more resilient and reliable infrastructure for America."

Some of the observations and results arising from this collaboration include the following:

  • Grid modernization technologies have helped, and are helping, utilities to have greater "visibility" across their system, greater "situational awareness" of field conditions, as well as greater capabilities through increased automation to restore power more quickly.
  • The GridWise Alliance recommends that electric utilities receive "priority access" to communications networks during extreme events to help restore power as quickly as possible, when outages do occur.
  • While it will never be feasible to prevent ALL outages or eliminate all physical and cyber threats, the electric utility industry, as well as other critical infrastructure sectors, is taking a risk management approach to dealing with these challenges. Utilities have put in place plans that will allow them to identify and properly respond to cyber and physical disruptions when they do occur – focusing on a "defense in depth" strategy (i.e., multiple layers of security) – and are extremely focused on continuing to enhance cyber protection for key (critical) systems. The electric sector is the only one today that has mandatory reliability standards.

Critical infrastructure sectors (industries) are increasingly interdependent, and will become more so. Thus, working across these sectors will become increasingly vital. The GridWise Alliance and its members are working to facilitate ways to share best practices and help each other improve their resilience and reliability – this is paramount.