Resilience—the electric grid’s ability to resist, absorb, and recover from high-impact, low-probability external shocks—is an important, yet wide-ranging and potentially amorphous concept. Many different actions can help the grid defend against, absorb, or recover from high-impact, low-probability shocks. However, some potential actions will do little to address specific threats and have been suggested for what appears to be political reasons. Moreover, many actions that can significantly enhance electric system resilience come at substantial cost. Systematically and transparently evaluating the cost of a potential resilience-enhancing action and its expected impact on the probabilities and consequences of grid outages is critical to evaluating whether that action is worthwhile from an economic efficiency perspective or whether it is misguided. To ensure that we make only efficient and cost-beneficial investments, decisionmakers must adopt a clear and useable definition of resilience, identify potential actions that improve resilience, and conduct an economic analysis of the social value of those actions. Only by engaging in this type of analysis can policymakers ensure that they do more than simply pick winners based on political preferences.
This report aims to assist policymakers in understanding grid resilience and evaluating potential interventions aimed at improving it.