It's the nightmare scenario: a terrorist attack, or a huge storm, or any one of countless other disasters, hits a major city. Millions are left without power. It happened during Hurricane Sandy, and many times before then, and it's bound to happen again. Chicago's new program wants to prepare for when it does. Commonwealth Edison will soon begin work on a new system that would keep the city's business center, the Loop, protected during a catastrophe, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Commonwealth Edison will soon begin laying superconducting cable underground
Knocking out a single susbstation — the middlemen between power plants and customers — can disrupt the flow of electricity for a huge area. But there's a way to return power to that area after it's been knocked out. Commonwealth Edison will soon begin laying superconducting cable underground, parallel to the wire that usually ferries electricity to the Loop. The new cable can carry 10 times the power of a standard cable, so if a substation is damaged, the new cable is powerful enough to reroute power from other areas and into the Loop.
The Obama administration has made a point of strengthening electricity infrastructure. This particular project was funded with $60 million from the Department of Homeland Security, although the total cost will be much higher. The makers of the cable, American Superconductor, are also in negotiations with two more utilities, the Tribune reported, although it's not clear yet which two they'll be.