Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Mun Son


As our electric power distribution infrastructure has aged, considerable investment

has been applied to modernizing the electrical power grid through weatherization

and in deployment of real-time monitoring systems. A key question is whether or not

these investments are reducing the number and duration of power outages, leading to

improved reliability.

Statistical methods are applied to analyze electrical disturbance data (from the

Department of Energy, DOE) and reliability index data (from state utility public service

commission regulators) to detect signs of improvement. The number of installed

smart meters provided by several utilities is used to determine whether the number

of smart meters correlate with a reduction in outage frequency.

Indication emerged that the number of power outages may be decreasing over

time. The magnitude of power loss has decreased from 2003 to 2007, and behaves

cyclically from 2008 to 2014, with a few outlier points in both groups. The duration

also appears to be decreasing between 2003-2014.

Large blackout events exceeding 5 GW continue to be rare, and certain power

outage events are seasonally dependent. There was a linear relationship between

the number of customers and the magnitude of a power outage event. However, no

relationship was found between the magnitude of power outages and time to restore

power. The frequency of outages maybe decreasing as the number of installed smart

meters has increased.

Recommendations for inclusion of additional metrics, changes to formatting and

semantics of datasets currently provided by federal and state regulators are made to

help aid researchers in performing more effective analysis. Confounding variables and

lack of information that has made the analysis diffcult is also discussed.



Number of Pages

108 p.