Sometimes a power failure can be fairly local, but other times, a seemingly identical initial failure can cascade to cause a massive and costly breakdown in the system. Yang et al. built a model for the North American power grid network based on samples of data covering the years 2008 to 2013 (see the Perspective by D’Souza). Although the observed cascades were widespread, a small fraction of all network components, particularly the ones that were most cohesive within the network, were vulnerable to cascading failures. Larger cascades were associated with concurrent triggering events that were geographically closer to each other and closer to the set of vulnerable components.
Small vulnerable sets determine large network cascades in power grids
Yang Yang, Takashi Nishikawa, Adilson E. Motter