IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Blackouts, risk, and fat-tailed distributions


  • Rafal Weron

    (Hugo Steinhaus Center)

  • Ingve Simonsen

    (The Norwegian University of Science & Technology)


We analyze a 19-year time series of North American electric power transmission system blackouts. Contrary to previously reported results we find a fatter than exponential decay in the distribution of inter- occurrence times and evidence of seasonal dependence in the number of events. Our findings question the use of self-organized criticality, and in particular the sandpile model, as a paradigm of blackout dynamics in power transmission systems. Hopefully, though, they will provide guidelines to more accurate models for evaluation of blackout risk.

Suggested Citation

  • Rafal Weron & Ingve Simonsen, 2005. "Blackouts, risk, and fat-tailed distributions," Risk and Insurance 0510001, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpri:0510001
    Note: Type of Document - pdf; pages: 5 , 3 . To appear in: H. Takayasu (ed.), Proceedings of the 3rd Nikkei Econophysics Symposium, Springer-Tokyo, 2005/2006

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Enrico Scalas & Rudolf Gorenflo & Hugh Luckock & Francesco Mainardi & Maurizio Mantelli & Marco Raberto, 2004. "Anomalous waiting times in high-frequency financial data," Quantitative Finance, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 4(6), pages 695-702.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item


    blackout; risk; fat-tailed distribution; power grid;


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:wpa:wuwpri:0510001. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (EconWPA). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.