University of Pittsburgh
July 31, 2012

Pitt Faculty Expert Available to Comment on the Ongoing Power Outage in India, Vulnerability of National Power Grids

Contact:  412-624-4147

PITTSBURGH—The world saw its two largest power outages in two days this week as darkness crippled roughly half of India and spread across an area whose population is more than 700 million—nearly 10 percent of the world’s population. While the main cause of the outage is still unclear, U.S. energy experts say it’s unlikely the U.S. power grid could experience a similar outage because of the relative superiority of our infrastructure and the procedures by which we plan, operate, and maintain the highly interconnected power networks across the country.

“The U.S. grid is not as vulnerable as places like India, but it is an aging grid that needs continued expansion, modernization, investment, and new technologies to maintain high reliability levels,” says Gregory Reed, director of the Electric Power Initiative and professor of electric power engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and associate director of Pitt’s Center for Energy. “However, as we witnessed with the massive storm system on June 29 that disabled power across the East Coast, the aging grid in some areas is increasingly vulnerable to storms and other natural disasters.

“These outages impact our regional and economies in terms of lost revenues and day-to-day business,” Reed adds. “Yet on a human scale they are inconvenient, frustrating, and sometimes dangerous, especially when occurring during extreme heat or cold waves that put children and the elderly at risk. Addressing the nation’s power grid becomes a greater priority each time one of these blackouts occurs.”

Reed is available to comment on the U.S. power grid as it relates to energy, infrastructure, and economic value. He is also able to comment on the following issues:

  • Power electronics (FACTS, HVDC) and control technologies;
  • Renewable energy systems and integration;
  • Smart grid technologies and applications;
  • Direct Current (DC) technology and research;
  • Energy storage systems and developments;
  • Energy efficiency and energy management; and
  • Power quality.

Reed may be reached at (412) 389-7503 or gfr3@pitt.edu from 8 to 9:30 a.m. or from 3 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 1; 10-11 a.m. or 2-3 p.m. Aug. 2; or 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 3.

Reed has more than 27 years of combined industry and academic experience in the electric power and energy arena—including engineering, R&D, and executive management positions throughout his career with the Consolidated Edison of New York Inc., ABB Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corp., and DNV-KEMA Inc. He has authored or co-authored more than 75 papers and technical articles in the areas of electric power system analysis, the applications of advanced power systems and power electronics technologies, and power engineering education. In his roles at Pitt, Reed is responsible for providing the vision and leadership for the multidisciplinary activities of the electric power engineering program’s educational, research, and outreach components. 

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