University of Pittsburgh
August 28, 2012

Pitt Faculty Experts Available to Comment on Hurricane Isaac Impact

Gregory Reed can address power grid issues, while Louise Comfort can discuss disaster response management
Contact:  412-624-4147

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PITTSBURGH—With Hurricane Isaac rolling over the Gulf of Mexico toward Louisiana, many New Orleans residents are already seeing the effects on their power supply with scattered outages in both the metropolitan area and in coastal parishes. The resulting darkness is expected to intensify once the city sustains anticipated hurricane-force winds early Wednesday. Gregory Reed, director of the Electric Power Initiative, professor of electric power engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and associate director of Pitt’s Center for Energy

“Severe weather events such as Hurricane/Tropical Storm Isaac highlight the deficiencies of electric power distribution and transmission in the U.S.,” said Gregory Reed, director of the Electric Power Initiative, professor of electric power engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering, and associate director of Pitt’s Center for Energy. “Each of these events contributes to additional losses, both human and economic, when you think of the electric power lost to millions over days and sometimes weeks. It is critical, especially in this coming political season, that Americans more seriously consider the need to improve our aging electric power grid.”

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.

Unlike Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the public agencies in both Mississippi and Louisiana are already preparing for this hurricane well in advance of landfall. In an Aug. 28 address, U.S. President Barack Obama urged citizens to take the evacuations seriously and prepare for disaster.

“Both governors have declared states of disaster, which has allowed them to mobilize emergency personnel and resources in advance of the storm,” said Louise Comfort, director of Pitt’s Center for Disaster Management in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and a professor of international affairs at Pitt. These are essential steps to reduce likely losses.”

Comfort is able to comment on disaster response management as it relates to Hurricane Isaac. She is also able to discuss the following issues:

  • Louise Comfort, director of Pitt’s Center for Disaster Management in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and professor of international affairs at PittDisaster management;
  • Organizational theory;
  • Innovation and behavior;
  • Complex adaptive systems;
  • Policy analysis design;
  • Program implementation; and
  • Information technology policy and management.

Reed may be reached at (412) 389-7503 or gfr3@pitt.edu.

Comfort may be reached at (412) 648-7606 or lkc@pitt.edu.

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 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. 

Comfort has more than 30 years experience in the field of public policy analysis, information policy, organizational theory, and sociotechnical systems. Throughout her career, she has focused on the design, development, and integration of information processes to support decision-making in urgent, uncertain environments. In addition to her many publications, her 2006 research on the impact of Hurricane Katrina and communications infrastructures was highlighted in the Public Works Management and Policy academic journal. Comfort is currently engaged in several large-scale research projects related to crisis management and the improvement of decision-making processes during emergency situations. 

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Gregory Reed, director of the Electric Power Initiative, professor of electric power engineering in Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering and associate director of Pitt’s Center for Energy

Louise Comfort, director of Pitt’s Center for Disaster Management in the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs and professor of international affairs at Pitt

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