Can systems built today cope with tomorrow’s weather extremes?
Michael Kintner-Meyer is an engineer in the Energy and Environment Directorate at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and is responsible for grid analytics at the Laboratory. Ian Kraucunas is deputy director of PNNL’s Atmospheric Sciences and Global Change Division, and leads PNNL’s Platform for Regional Integrated Modeling and Analysis (PRIMA) initiative. Previously he was a senior program officer with the Board of Atmospheric Sciences and Climate at the National Research Council.
The extreme weather of 2012, which exposed a number of limitations in the nation’s grid infrastructure, was a climate change wake-up call for the electric power industry. Two nuclear power plants in New England were forced to shut down due to the temperature of their cooling water supplies.1 Drought in Texas led the North American Electric Reliability Corp. to report concerns about the state’s ability to maintain adequate reserve margins.2 Then there was Superstorm Sandy. In addition to devastating the Long Island coastline, New York City boroughs, and New Jersey coastal areas, the storm disrupted power supplies for millions of residences and businesses.