• Critical social services;
  • distributed generation;
  • prolonged blackouts;
  • smart grids

Despite continuing efforts to make the electric power system robust, some risk remains of widespread and extended power outages due to extreme weather or acts of terrorism. One way to alleviate the most serious effects of a prolonged blackout is to find local means to secure the continued provision of critical social services upon which the health and safety of society depend. This article outlines and estimates the incremental cost of a strategy that uses small distributed generation, distribution automation, and smart meters to keep a set of critical social services operational during a prolonged power outage that lasts for days or weeks and extends over hundreds of kilometers.