Modeling cascading failures in the North American power grid

R. Kinney, P. Crucitti, R. Albert, V. Latora

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

610 Scopus citations


The North American power grid is one of the most complex technological networks, and its interconnectivity allows both for long-distance power transmission and for the propagation of disturbances. We model the power grid using its actual topology and plausible assumptions about the load and overload of transmission substations. Our results indicate that the loss of a single substation can result in up to 25\% loss of transmission efficiency by triggering an overload cascade in the network. The actual transmission loss depends on the overload tolerance of the network and the connectivity of the failed substation. We systematically study the damage inflicted by the loss of single nodes, and find three universal behaviors, suggesting that 40\% of the transmission substations lead to cascading failures when disrupted. While the loss of a single node can inflict substantial damage, subsequent removals have only incremental effects, in agreement with the topological resilience to less than 1\% node loss.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Physical Journal B
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Electronic, Optical and Magnetic Materials
  • Condensed Matter Physics


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