A Closed-Loop Distribution System Restoration Tool for Natural Disaster Recovery

Recent severe power outages caused by extreme weather events have highlighted the importance and urgency of improving the resilience of the electric power grid. Grid resilience is increasingly critical since the number of outages caused by severe weather is expected to rise as climate change increases the frequency and intensity of hurricanes, blizzards, floods, and other extreme weather events. As the distribution grids may still remain vulnerable to natural disasters to a certain extent, the power industry has focused on methods of restoring distribution systems quickly after disasters. However, current distribution grid restoration practice is based on the predetermined priorities from previous experiences, which is not adaptive with respect to the status of power grid damage under evolving weather events and available restoration capabilities and resources, and thus tends to be inefficient and suboptimal. In addition, lack of situational awareness of distribution grids poses great challenges to power system operators, which largely delays the restoration process and incurs large economic costs to customers.

This project aims to fill this technology gap by developing a distribution restoration decision support tool that will assist utilities in performing distribution restoration after extreme weather events in an optimal and efficient manner. The tool will integrate the weather information/forecasts and system fragility assessment together with the field measurement data to improve the situational awareness and estimate the system damage status. Advanced optimization models will be leveraged to dispatch repair crews and associated resources. New resources (e.g., automatic switches and distributed generators (DGs)) enabled by distribution automation and smart grid development will be utilized to reconfigure distribution grids and pick up loads promptly to reduce the outage sizes and durations. The closed-loop feature of the tool will make the tool adaptive to the evolving weather events and varying restoration capabilities.

The main outcome of the project is a decision support software tool that can be leveraged by utilities for system restoration under outages caused by extreme weather events and possibly other large-scale events so that outage sizes and durations as well as the associated economic and societal losses can be minimized. A technical report with a comprehensive and technical collection of models, formulations, algorithms, and data used by the tool will be delivered.