As electric transmission networks continue to increase in complexity and volatility, there is a growing potential for cascading failure effects to cause major blackouts. Understanding these effects and assessing the risks involved is of critical importance in operating the electric grid and maintaining high reliability. Analysis of empirical data suggests that blackout sizes obey a power-law with exponents that vary across data sets. For a particular macroscopic cascading failure model, such power-law behavior was also observed with one specific exponent. Motivated by the variation in the exponents revealed by empirical blackout data, we extend this cascading failure model with a network splitting mechanism. We demonstrate the impact of the latter feature on the power-law exponent of the blackout size. Moreover, we identify the most likely scenario for a severe blackout to occur. These insights provide crucial steps towards a deeper understanding of more complex network splitting scenarios.

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Conference Power and Energy Society General Meeting, PESGM
Sloothaak, F, Borst, S.C, & Zwart, A.P. (2017). Impact of network splitting on cascading failure blackouts. In IEEE Power & Energy Society General Meeting (pp. 1–5). doi:10.1109/PESGM.2017.8274478