From Scott Carlberg

Bundle up. The “Carolinas could see a ‘significant’ amount of sleet that could quickly coat trees and power lines in frozen rain potentially causing ‘extended’ power outages.” That was in The Hill, a Washington, DC, news source, so we know that policymakers should have seen it. Perhaps the storm can make the idea of power grid prep stick.

The storm comes from a mix of frigid Canadian air meeting with a disturbance from the Pacific Northwest, then heading east.

It may be a good time to check the recent study, Final Report on the Resiliency of South Carolina’s Electric and Natural Gas Infrastructure Against Extreme Winter Storm Events. While it is a South Carolina study, other states would do well to take note. Nothing exclusive to South Carolina here; plenty to learn.

The report says South Carolina utilities “are adequately prepared to prevent and respond to outages caused by ice storms and other winter weather events.” The report from the SC Office of Regulatory Staff came out in December 2021.

Adequately prepared seems less than a ringing endorsement.

Some areas are strong and utilities need to get credit. These are area such as emergency management and planning, risk management, operational protocols, and staffing and mutual assistance support.

“System design and hardening” is about the lowest scored area. Makes sense because utilities have talked about the need for grid hardening – how to make the grid more resilient to extreme weather. The report is a good benchmark when considering the issues around hardening the system.

I recently cited a story that makes this storm even more salient – Changes in climate and your power system are on a collision course. My blog column is here.

The ice and snow storm cometh. If this is a major weather event in the Carolinas, or even Iowa, Kansas, Georgia, Tennessee, or Virginia, people may be stuck indoors with time on their hands. Maybe the South Carolina report can help pass the time, especially if you are a policymaker.


Feature image: Just outside of Auston, TX, during the February 2021 deep freeze.