Improving Resilience on Electric Power Infrastructure Systems Vulnerable to Disruptions

Improving Resilience on Electric Power Infrastructure Systems Vulnerable to Disruptions

José A. Santiváñez Guarniz, PhD

Industrial and Management Engineering Professor, School of Engineering, Universidad Ana G. Méndez Gurabo Campus

Tel: (787) 743 7979 ext. 4177

Disruptions have the potential to cause widespread systemic failures on electric power infrastructures that could negatively impact industrial production, public services, and the movement of goods and people.  

The two main topics to be addressed in this proposal, are explained below:

  1. Assessing interdependent vulnerabilities of critical infrastructures
    In the aftermath of hurricane Maria, 100% of electric power was lost in Puerto Rico. The loss of electricity had an unexpected effect on the Puerto Rico telecommunications network.  The lack of electric power also severely damaged the water supply. Without communication, the social network entities needed for disaster management and recovery actions were unavailable.  Power electric, telecommunications, and water supply networks authorities tried to get service back by using diesel or gasoline generators, but the distribution networks of these fuels proved to be ineffective unveiling one of the biggest problems during the aftermath of María, the collapse of distribution networks. These five critical interdependent infrastructures (power electric, telecommunication, distribution, social, and water networks) affected each other in such a way that after more than two months after hurricane María, service in Puerto Rico was far from restored.  The proposed research will assess the interdependent vulnerabilities of the critical infrastructures focusing on power electric networks.
  2. Resilience in electric power distribution systems
    Given that the Puerto Rican power grid is vulnerable due to its age, low maintenance and its heavily centralized power production, many businesses, homes, and tourist resorts have rely on diesel generator, in order to operate during emergencies or even normal power outages.  In order to embed resiliency in the Puerto Rican electric grid it is necessary to create an appropriate number of distributed and variable energy generation resources and the smart grid implementation. Reliable and resilient locally produced electricity is the key ingredient for a distributed generation. This project focuses in determining the optimum mix for distributed power generation, where decisions of how to allocate locally produced power by both fossil fuels and non-fossil fuel sources is designed to be efficiently integrated to the grid.