Quantifying the Value of Resilience for the Grid of the Future for ComEd

Lead PI: Jeffrey Schlegelmilch

Unit Affiliation: National Center for Disaster Preparedness (NCDP)

September 2021 - September 2022
North America
Project Type: Research

DESCRIPTION: The establishment of microgrids for the electrical infrastructure helps to sustain the ability of a community to recover after a disaster by mitigating the impacts of wide-spread power outages and hardening critical infrastructure to better withstand and recover from disasters. However, this notion of “resilience” has generally been more theoretical and aspirational rather than something that can be quantified and ultimately integrated into systems evaluation paradigms.

ComEd and NCDP have been collaborating over the past 12 months to present a series of thought leadership pieces that address the role of energy utilities in fostering resilience to climate change, COVID-19 and other disasters. They have also collaborated on a tabletop exercise for the Bronzeville Community Microgrid (BCM), bringing together first responders and community organization representatives to discuss the value of the microgrid in delivering benefits to communities, including quantifiable impacts that include lives saved as a result of continuous power availability within the microgrid footprint., economic and social benefit, which contribute to community resilience.

Due to the nature of resilience, many elements can be antagonistic if not evaluated across a range of consequences. The Urban Resilience Research Network has described these phenomena in the context of urban resilience as tensions between resilience and other driving principles. They propose resilience “profiles” that measure resilience across community resilience (social capital), economic resilience, infrastructure resilience and environmental resilience, and demonstrates who these profiles may be uneven in different settings. The private sector uses a “balance scorecard” approach for strategic planning to balance tensions in the strategic management of business operations, with quantitative evaluation measures. This approach defines goals and measures to observe and balance different potential “tensions” in strategic development. Adapting this approach to measuring the resilience of the electric grid based on benefits that accrue to the customers it serves will provide a more robust understanding of resilience factors, and which actions will enhance or diminish these impacts.

The benefits of improvements to grid infrastructure (including and beyond microgrids), are based on different domains of impact that must be monitored in tandem with each other. This is to ensure that investments towards one type of benefit does not inadvertently diminish resilience in another area. As a starting point for analysis, the following domains are initially proposed:

Physical Infrastructure, or the frequency and duration ofvarious disruptive events that may cause failure of the electric grid, and investments in physical infrastructure that may prevent failure
Health Impacts, or the impacts to health that can be caused by different disruptions and attempts to mitigate against them (e.g. positive health impacts as a result of continuity of service and emissions from diesel generators). Health impacts can be further understood as physical and mental health.
Social Impacts, or impacts that can build or erode social capital in communities. This may include sub-categories related to equity.
Economic Resilience, or the economic value to the community. This may also include considerations for the ability to bring solutions to sufficient scale and the expected cost/benefit to rate-payer investments in grid improvements.
The final product will be a functional balanced scorecard to quantify the value of grid resilience in a community context. This tool will be able to be used to measure resilience retrospectively, as well as to support grid investment decisions prospectively