Out West student blog

Grid Reliability

Alex Evers cooks dinner after a day of working remotely for the Western Interstate Energy Board. (Photo credit: Alex Evers)

By Alex Evers '22
Hometown: Pasadena, CA
Major: Earth Systems
Intern, Western Interstate Energy Board

Why did you want to do this internship?

I was interested in this internship because of the observable impact my work can have on various communities throughout the western United States. The project also focuses on wildfires, which I have experienced firsthand, being a resident of California, and I know just how destructive they can be. 

How does your role support the host organization’s mission?

I am a co-lead on a project that focuses on grid reliability in the western United States. Grid reliability refers to limiting the number and duration of power outages, increasing the reliability of the electric grid. The goal of my organization is to enhance the economy of the West and improve the lives of people living in the region through energy policy and research. Our project directly ties into this goal and gives me confidence that I will make a meaningful impact. 

Describe a project you will be working on this summer. 

The project I am working on this summer deals with Public Safety Power Shutoffs and grid hardening. Public Safety Power Shutoffs are the intentional de-energization of circuits so that damage to wires or poles does not cause fires, while grid hardening is a method of increasing the strength of the grid to reduce the chance of ignition. I will analyze data collected after Public Safety Power Shutoffs then develop strategies to improve grid hardening and the impacts of Public Safety Power Shutoffs. All this work will come together at a webinar in August where my partner and I will present our research to utility regulators from the western states, British Columbia, and Alberta.

How does this project relate to your studies and/or career goals? 

This project relates to my studies as I am an Earth Systems major with a focus in Energy, Science, and Technology. The energy aspect relates to grid reliability, and the technology aspect relates to grid hardening and the technology needed to sectionalize portions of the grid, or implement sectionalizing devices along the electric distribution system so that if a problem occurs in one area, it does not affect all customers on the same circuit. Beyond my studies, I am also interested in working for a Public Utilities Commission in the future and am looking forward to the experience I will gain from this internship.

 

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