"Damage to substations, poles, transformers and power lines causes most power outages during storms. Even so, improvements to other parts of the grid can protect us against disasters. One improvement would be to expand the use of distributed power generation through fuel cells, microturbines, and the simultaneous "cogeneration" of both heat and power.
Such distributed power sources have very small installation footprints—fitting even on the roof of a building—and can provide secure power regardless of other outages on the electrical grid. During and after Sandy, cogeneration allowed pockets of New York City (such as the large Co-op City neighborhood) never to lose electricity or heat. Crucially, favorable amortization schedules and tax treatment, along with operational cost savings, can make these power sources attractive investments for building owners and other investors. They can even generate revenue by selling excess electricity back into the marketplace during times of peak demand, a practice known as demand response.
Finally, the way the Federal Emergency Management Agency works with electrical utilities after disasters needs reform. Under the current system, utilities receive federal emergency funding to replace damaged electrical components only if they replace them "in-kind" with the same technology. This means that all sorts of antiquated components are simply being replaced. This makes no sense. The federal government should promote modern technologies and best practices.
Officials at all levels of government should work to ensure that structures rebuilt after Sandy are more resilient and energy-efficient than their predecessors."As a popular, previous post noted, a smart grid should not become something that accommodates all kinds of inefficient energy inputs because of popular green ideology. Such a grid would be prohibitively expensive and inefficient. We have the knowledge in our universities and private research institutes to build a grid which is orders of magnitude more reliable, efficient and "green" than what we have. Let's get going and build it.