New Jersey: Grid Redundancy Prevents Large-Scale Power Outages

Large-scale power outages are unlikely in New Jersey because of safeguards built into the electric grid, safety measures implemented following major weather events, and regular tests of grid resiliency. On February 9, an explosion at a high voltage substation near Brussels, Belgium damaged a physical connection between electrical grid components—causing a widespread power outage. Technicians restored power within three hours and reported a technical issue still under investigation caused the explosion.

  • New Jersey’s electric grid has built-in redundancies. The Electric Distribution Companies (EDC) in New Jersey have incorporated measures that usually ensure uninterrupted connectivity to adjacent circuits if a substation fails. This allows power diversion to and from other substations to maintain service during a disruption.
     
  • After Hurricanes Irene and Sandy, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities required EDCs to take 111 industry-wide measures to improve preparedness, communications, restoration, and response efforts for large-scale outages. These measures include upgrading transmission and substation equipment, creating system redundancy, employing smart grid technologies to better monitor system operations, improving circuits, modernizing distribution equipment, and trimming trees along distribution and transmission lines.
     
  • The North American Electric Reliability Company tests the resiliency of the electric grid in North America through a biennial Grid Exercise (Gridex). Gridex focuses on government agencies’ and electric utilities’ responses in the US and Canada to coordinated cyber or physical attacks on the electric grid. Participants include federal, state, local, and provincial government agencies, first responders, electric utility supply chain partners, and other energy sector shareholders. The next exercise, Gridex IV, is this November 2017.

For additional information, please contact NJOHSP’s Preparedness Bureau at preparedness@njohsp.gov.