Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Engineering and Public Policy


M. Granger Morgan


The drive to make the aging electric grid more efficient, reliable, and clean has been at the heart of the “smart grid” mission. Additionally, provisions of the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA) and the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) have led to smart grid investments in the United States. Smart grid upgrades have included the installation of new technologies at all levels of the electric power delivery system. At the distribution system level modernization has included upgrades to communication systems, distribution automation, local control and protection systems, and advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).

Chapter 2 of this thesis aims to use elements of the emerging smart grid at the distribution system level to alleviate the effects of a widespread and long-duration power blackout. Despite continuing efforts to make the electric grid robust, some risk remains of widespread and extended power outages caused by extreme weather, human error, or premeditated terrorist attack. Chapter 2 applies the concept of survivability to the case of ensuring the continued provision of a subset of socially critical services during such blackouts. A load cycling based methodology is proposed, and an associated economic analysis indicates that the cost of implementing the proposed scheme constitutes less than 1% of median annual household income for a range of assumed outage probabilities, distributed generation resource availabilities, and financing options. While the technical elements of proposed scheme are largely feasible, a few policy changes are identified as necessary for successful implementation of the scheme.

The latter half of this thesis focuses on one potential security risk posed by the large-scale deployment of smart meters. Smart meters constitute one component of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), a key element of the smart grid. Chapter 3 describes a few documented smart meter hacking strategies and motivates the following question: What, if any, are the implications of smart meter hacking for the bulk power grid? To help answer this question Chapter 4 focuses on one specific attack type with the potential for causing widespread disruption to electric service – the cycling of a large number of consumer loads using the remote connect/disconnect switch on several smart meters. Results from simulations performed on two IEEE test networks (the 9 and 39-bus dynamic test cases) indicate that it is improbable that the mere toggling of customer loads could destabilize the bulk power grid because the fraction of system load that needs to be cycled to induce instability is likely to be prohibitively large.