Episode 132: How Can Cities Prepare for Blackouts?

Jay Apt, from Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business and Department of Engineering & Public Policy, explains how microgrids can help us recover quickly in the case of a blackout.

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How Microgrids Work from the U.S. Department of Energy

Microgrid Activities from the U.S. Department of Energy

Blackouts are a Fact of Life. Let’s Deal with Them by Jay Apt

The Resilience of the Electric Power Delivery System in Response to Terrorism and Natural Disasters by the National Research Council

Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages from The Office of the President


Transcript

HOST: Have you ever wondered how cities can better prepare for blackouts? On this week’s Energy Bite, Jay Apt, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, has some answers.

APT: Blackouts due to hurricanes, ice storms, and earthquakes cannot be prevented. But that does not mean we have to do without the essential services electricity provides. U.S. building codes often require tall buildings with elevators to have a backup diesel generator so that people don’t have to walk up 30 flights of stairs. And some cities have low power LED traffic lights with solar panels and batteries to keep them working in essential urban corridors. Microgrids are another option.

HOST: What is a microgrid?

APT: A microgrid is a small version of the electric grid we know today. It’s small in the sense that it might generate power for just a neighborhood or a shopping center, for example. Microgrids for electric power may violate the exclusive territory of utilities, but some states are experimenting with allowing microgrids because they have significant advantages for reliability. After Hurricane Sandy, for example, microgrids were very important in keeping the power on in neighborhoods.

HOST: Would you support a microgrid in your community? Take our poll, see the results, and ask your energy questions at Energy Bite dot org.

ANNOUNCER: Energy Bite is a co-production between 90.5 WESA and Carnegie Mellon’s’ Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

 

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