As the U.S. power systems continue to increase in size and complexity, including the growth of smart grids, larger blackouts due to cascading outages become more likely. Grid congestion is often associated with a cascading collapse leading to a major blackout. Such a collapse is characterized by a self-sustaining sequence of line outages followed by a topology breakup of the network.

This paper addresses the implementation and testing of a process for N-k contingency analysis and sequential cascading outage simulation in order to identify potential cascading modes. A modeling approach described in this paper offers a unique capability to identify initiating events that may lead to cascading outages. It predicts the development of cascading events by identifying and visualizing potential cascading tiers. The proposed approach was implemented using a 328-bus simplified SERC power system network. The results of the study indicate that initiating events and possible cascading chains may be identified, ranked and visualized. This approach may be used to improve the reliability of a transmission grid and reduce its vulnerability to cascading outages....(read more...)