Large-scale data analysis of power grid resilience across multiple US service regions

  • Nature Energy 1, Article number: 16052 (2016)
  • doi:10.1038/nenergy.2016.52
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Severe weather events frequently result in large-scale power failures, affecting millions of people for extended durations. However, the lack of comprehensive, detailed failure and recovery data has impeded large-scale resilience studies. Here, we analyse data from four major service regions representing Upstate New York during Super Storm Sandy and daily operations. Using non-stationary spatiotemporal random processes that relate infrastructural failures to recoveries and cost, our data analysis shows that local power failures have a disproportionally large non-local impact on people (that is, the top 20% of failures interrupted 84% of services to customers). A large number (89%) of small failures, represented by the bottom 34% of customers and commonplace devices, resulted in 56% of the total cost of 28 million customer interruption hours. Our study shows that extreme weather does not cause, but rather exacerbates, existing vulnerabilities, which are obscured in daily operations.

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The authors thank J. Love, D. Mitra, M. Rodriguez, T. Spatz and M. Worden for their help and insightful discussions. In addition, the authors thank D. Mitra as an academic adviser for the project, M. Rodriguez for sharing observations relating to the non-local impact to customers from other hurricanes, and A. Afsharinejad for critiquing the manuscript. Support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to Georgia Tech is gratefully acknowledged. The opinions in this paper are of the authors and do not represent those of the New York State Department of Public Service.

Author information


  1. School of Electrical and Computer Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332–0250, USA

    • Chuanyi Ji
    • , Yun Wei
    •  & Henry Mei
  2. National Grid, Waltham, Massachusetts 02451, USA

    • Jorge Calzada
    •  & Robert Wilcox
  3. New York State Public Service Commission, Albany, New York 12223-1350, USA

    • Matthew Carey
    • , Gregory Stella
    •  & Matthew Wallace
  4. New York State Electric and Gas Corporation, Binghamton, New York 13904, USA

    • Steve Church
  5. Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., Poughkeepsie, New York 12601, USA

    • Timothy Hayes
  6. Orange & Rockland Utilities, Pearl River, New York 10965, USA

    • Brian Nugent
    •  & Joe White


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C.J. formulated the problem; Y.W. and H.M. conducted the experiments and wrote codes with contributions from M.C.; J.C., S.C., T.H., B.N., J.W. and R.W. gathered granular data; G.S. and M.W. provided their related Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA); C.J. derived the analytical model with Y.W.; C.J., Y.W. and H.M. analysed the results with insightful suggestions from all the other authors; C.J., Y.W. and H.M. wrote the paper with contributions from M.W.

Competing interests

C.J. and Y.W. are co-authors of a pending patent application; C.J., Y.W. and H.M. are co-authors of a pending provisional patent application.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Chuanyi Ji.

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    Supplementary Information

    Supplementary Notes 1–6, Supplementary Tables 1–6, Supplementary Figures 1–7, Supplementary References.