Define Impacts

Impacts describe the effects that threats have on power system infrastructure, systems, or processes. The identification of impacts associated with each threat is an important step in assessing vulnerabilities. Every threat could impact the power system in multiple ways. For example, strong winds from tornadoes could cause transmission poles and lines to fall—resulting in power outages, additional costs for repairs, and financial loss due to decreased generation requirements. For more information on impacts, refer to the presentation at the end of this section.

Impacts—the extent to which a threat affects power sector infrastructure, systems, or processes (e.g., a tornadoes causes wind damage to transmission lines).

Threats-anything that can damage, destroy, or disrupt the power sector. Threats can be natural, technological, or human caused. Threats are not typically within the control of power system planners and operators. They can include wildfires, hurricanes, storm surges, cyberattacks, and more.

1. Identifying Impacts on the Power Sector

Threats can impact the power sector in many ways and are not limited to physical effects on infrastructure. Different types of impacts include:

  • Effect on delivery of power—the percentage of service disrupted, effects on power quality, etc., due to impacts on generation, transmission, or distribution.
  • Effect on capital and operating costs—additional costs incurred during a power disruption and costs to resume or maintain the reliable operation of the power system.

Understanding Power System Threats and Impacts
This quick read outlines power system threats and impacts. Understanding potential threats to a power system is an essential first step in supporting power sector resilience. It is important to assess both current and future threats, as well as the likelihood of these threats over time. Threats can be grouped in three categories: natural threats, technological threats, and human-caused threats.

2. Identify the Impacts on the End User

Threats also impact the various end users of the power system in different ways. These impacts include health and safety impacts to the population and environmental effects, such as the release of toxic materials, effects on biodiversity, changes to an area’s ecosystem, impacts on historic sites, and others.  End users include the general population, communications industry, transportation, government infrastructure, and medical services.

Resources:

Activities

Power System Impacts
In this activity, you will identify the impacts associated with threats to your power sector.

Training Materials

Impacts Introduction
These slides are intended to provide additional background information and examples of types of power system impacts. They can serve simply as a reference or can be used in local power sector resilience assessment workshops. 

Data and Tools

DesInventar

DesInventar is a tool for generating National Disaster Inventories and constructing databases that capture information on damage, loss and general effects of disasters. With increased understanding of disaster trends and their impacts, better prevention, mitigation and preparedness measures can be planned to reduce the impact of disasters on the communities.

Publications and Case Studies

Planning a Resilient Power Sector

The provision of reliable, secure, and affordable electricity is essential to power economic growth and development. The power system is at risk from an array of natural, technological, and man-made threats that can cause everything from power interruption to chronic undersupply. It is critical for policymakers, planners, and system operators to safeguard their systems and plan for and invest in the improved resilience of the power sector in their countries. Through holistic resilience planning, actors can anticipate, prepare for, and adapt to the threats and stresses on the power system. Resilience planning identifies the threats, impacts, and vulnerabilities to the power system, and devises strategies to mitigate them.

Understanding Power System Threats and Impacts

Understanding potential threats to a power system is an essential first step in supporting power sector resilience. It is important to assess both current and future threats, as well as the likelihood of these threats over time. Threats can be grouped in three categories: natural threats, technological threats, and human-caused threats.

Solar Photovoltaic Systems in Hurricanes and Other Severe Weather

Field examinations of hurricane damaged photovoltaic systems have revealed important design, construction, and operational factors that greatly influence a system’s survivability from a severe weather event. This fact sheet provides an overview of recommended design specifications for increased system survivability identified from these recent hurricanes. Many of these factors can apply to other severe weather events, such as tornadoes.

Making the energy sector more resilient to climate change

The energy sector faces multiple threats from climate change, in particular from extreme weather events and increasing stress on water resources. Greater resilience to climate change impacts will be essential to the technical viability of the energy sector and its ability to cost-effectively meet the rising energy demands driven by global economic and population growth. Energy sector stakeholders, including governments, regulators, utilities/energy companies and financial institutions (banks, insurers, investors), will need to define climate change resilience and adaptation challenges and identify actions needed to address these challenges.

FOURTH NATIONAL CLIMATE ASSESSMENT CHAPTER 4: ENERGY SUPPLY, DELIVERY, AND DEMAND

The Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) focuses on the human welfare, societal, and environmental elements of climate change and variability for 10 regions and 18 national topics, with particular attention paid to observed and projected risks, impacts, consideration of risk reduction, and implications under different mitigation pathways. This assessment was written to help inform decision-makers, utility and natural resource managers, public health officials, emergency planners, and other stakeholders by providing a thorough examination of the effects of climate change on the United States.

Chapter 4 of this report focuses on energy supply, delivery, and demand: The Nation's energy system is already affected by extreme weather events, and due to climate change, it is projected to be increasingly threatened by more frequent and longer-lasting power outages affecting critical energy infrastructure and creating fuel availability and demand imbalances. The reliability, security, and resilience of the energy system underpin virtually every sector of the U.S. economy. Cascading impacts on other critical sectors could affect economic and national security.

Guidelines for Climate Proofing Investment in the Energy Sector

Asian Development Bank. While the exposure and vulnerability to climate will depend upon the nature and type of infrastructure as well as its location, the power sector is one whose output and efficiency are highly dependent on climate conditions. Projected changes in these conditions are expected to impact the sector significantly.

Solar Photovoltaic Systems in Hurricanes and Other Severe Weather

Field examinations of hurricane damaged photovoltaic systems have revealed important design, construction, and operational factors that greatly influence a system’s survivability from a severe weather event. This fact sheet provides an overview of recommended design specifications for increased system survivability identified from these recent hurricanes. Many of these factors can apply to other severe weather events, such as tornadoes.

Build Back Better: Reimagining and Strengthening the Power Grid of Puerto Rico

Hurricane Irma struck Puerto Rico's northern coastline on September 6 and 7, 2017 as a Category 5 storm, knocking out power to more than one million residents and critical infrastructure. Two weeks later, on September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria made its way up the Caribbean as a Category 4 hurricane, bringing winds of 150+ mph and dumping 25 inches of rain, resulting in catastrophic damage of historical proportion. The purpose of this report is to provide an assessment of the electric power system storm damage, describe a new system design basis, and propose rebuild recommendations for the Puerto Rico Power and Grid Resiliency rebuild initiative.