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Linesmen working to restore power during an intense ice storm

Synthetic Resiliency Modeling on Extended Power Outages

RUNWITHIT Synthetics (RWI), in collaboration with EPRI, will apply synthetic modeling to forecast human impacts to help the City of Nashville and Nashville Electric Service (NES) assess the outcomes of a widespread outage on residents and the benefits of distributed energy resource (DER) deployments against measured impacts.

Download the project snapshot



Nashville has experienced a variety of extreme weather events over the last decade, including heat waves, flooding and tornadoes, which produce electrical outages across the city. These events cause damage to the city and interrupt the lives of residents. With the increasing likelihood of outages from extreme weather events and other factors, such as cybersecurity attacks, there is an emphasis on studying and modeling ways Nashville can be more resilient in the face of these events. This includes studying DER adoption across the city and how these resources impact residents’ experiences with severe events.

Pilot Illustration


Pilot Illustration

TVA and EPRI are collaborating with Nashville Electric Service and the City of Nashville to model an extended power outage in Nashville and the potential benefits of placement and adoption of DER across the city. By using a city-wide outage, those with and without DER at their homes or businesses can be compared, as everyone experiences the outage at the same time but is not impacted equally. The software used in this exercise will model the impacts of the first 24 hours, the first 72 hours, and a full week of an outage to measure the social justice impact on residents and the economic impacts on businesses. Additionally, this modeling will allow TVA and NES to examine the potential grid impacts of an outage and how potential DER adoption may mitigate risks. By modeling a short- and long-term outage, TVA and NES can compare the predicted impacts and results to help Nashville better prepare for these kinds of risk events.

Summary of outage impacts across the city of Nashville


The success of this pilot will be measured by the following :

  1. Determine placement of DER within Nashville.
  2. Development of materials that help community groups better engage in resiliency planning.
  3. Use of the outputs created in this pilot project during resiliency planning.
  4. Implementation of modeling for resiliency planning by NES.
  5. Gain insight into community resilience impacts to inform resilience initiatives specific to DAC communities.

Key Levers for Success

This highly technical pilot project requires a team that is knowledgeable and skilled in software modeling. Additionally, working together with city leaders and various other partner organizations is important to provide a complete look at the potential impacts of a city-wide outage of services.

The Team

Steven Coley, manager, Grid R&D, TVA

Samuel Delay, senior project manager, Technology Innovation, TVA

Georgia Caruthers, senior program manager, Innovation and Research, TVA

Daniel Hanks, engineering supervisor, Distribution Planning, NES

Tony Richman, manager, Energy Services Engineering, NES

Kendra May Abkowitz, chief sustainability and resilience officer, City of Nashville

Sama Ahmed, product manager, RWI

Dean Bittner, CTO and co-founder, RWI

Myrna Bittner, CTO and co-founder, RWI

Katelyn Petersen, client executive, RWI

Quentin Randall, client executive, RWI

Anne Haas, chief, U.S. operations, RWI

Jared Green, technical leader, Distribution Operations and Planning, EPRI

Incubatenergy Labs Team, EPRI

Outcome of the Pilot

Through their modeling work, RUNWITHIT Synthetics investigated the impacts of an outage across the city of Nashville during the first 24 hours, the first 72 hours and a full week. The team created a series of videos that explain the methodology used in the modeling scenarios and the various impacts felt by different personas created for this project. Check out these videos to learn more about resiliency modeling and the potential impacts of an outage on Nashville.

Use Case 1

This use case demonstrates how human need can be quantified and geographically located to optimize and inform community resilience planning and mitigate human impacts during extended power outages. Models were used to identify zones of amplified need, based on economic health and mobility vulnerabilities. Existing support facilities within those zones were mapped to highlight the mismatch of needs to support services and possible inequity present – demonstrating the importance of both location and resource allocation and support for improving community resilience.

Use Case 2

This use case demonstrates how quantifying and locating different areas of electricity demand can be used for planning and locating of DERs. An extreme cold day (-10 degrees F) is modeled to understand the effects on total electricity demand. Understanding the neighborhoods and types of residences using the most electricity during these weather events can inform areas that should be a priority for grid modernization, restoration and locating DERs.

Use Case 3

This use case demonstrates how the social impact of grid priorities can be quantified for DER and modernization, as well as outage mitigation and management. Synthetic modeling allows for assessing how outages affect developed personas throughout Nashville. Risk indexes show where people have the highest need per person on average, as well as clusters of areas where people have more urgent and acute needs.