A 100-year geoelectric hazard analysis for the U.S. high-voltage power grid

Space Weather
By: , and 



A once-per-century geoelectric hazard map is created for the United States high-voltage power grid. A statistical extrapolation from 31 years of magnetic field measurements is made by identifying 84 geomagnetic storms with the Kp and Dst indices. Data from 24 geomagnetic observatories, 1079 magnetotelluric survey sites, and 17,258 transmission lines are utilized to perform a geoelectric hazard analysis with the most comprehensive data publicly available. With this data we estimate once-per-century geoelectric fields at the magnetotelluric survey sites and calculate the theoretical voltages within transmission lines in the United States power grid. Once-per-century geoelectric field strengths span more than three orders of magnitude from a minimum of 0.02 V/km at a site in Idaho to a maximum of 26.8 V/km at a site in Maine, with nearly 30% of the surveyed land area ex- ceeding 1 V/km. We show the influence that geoelectric field polarization has on geoelec- tric hazards when viewed on a power transmission network. The calculated transmission line voltages can exceed 1000 V in some transmission lines. Four regions in the United States with particularly notable geoelectric hazards are identified and discussed: the East coast, Pacific Northwest, upper Midwest, and the Denver metropolitan area.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A 100-year geoelectric hazard analysis for the U.S. high-voltage power grid
Series title Space Weather
DOI 10.1029/2019SW002329
Volume 18
Issue 2
Year Published 2020
Language English
Publisher Wiley
Contributing office(s) Geologic Hazards Science Center
Description e2019SW002329
Country United States
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