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NERC's 2022 State of Reliability: An industry in the midst of transformation

Sarah Beckman's picture
Program Director - Key Clients, Ulteig

Growth minded and high energy business professional, focused on building strong, trusted relationships in the power market. Strong background in utility and renewable sectors, focused on power...

  • Member since 2012
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  • Aug 1, 2022

NERC released its 2022 State of Reliability report in July, underlining the major challenges it sees facing the electric grid. While this is post is not intended to be a complete summary of the report, it highlights the major drivers, and you can find more information here: 

In 2021, the top 10 most severe grid misoperations were caused by extreme weather, highlighting the challenges we will face as we transition away from fossil generation and integrate the forecasted 500GW of solar and 400 GW of wind generation on the US power system over the next 10 years. In order to accomplish this shift, the report highlights the need to:

  1. Invest in natural gas as a bridge resource, modeling both plausible and extreme natural gas disruptions,
  2. Focus on reliably integrating inverter-based resources,
  3. Resolve the major permitting challenges present in building transmission lines,
  4. Build significantly more interregional transmission to enable different regions of the country to share power when grid conditions become tight,
  5. Stay ahead of the "relentlessly" evolving cybersecurity risks.

The complexities that lie ahead for operators of the bulk electric system continue to expand - predicting Mother Nature's extreme events, incorporating changing fuel sources, and anticipating cybersecurity threats, all while building out a transmission system that has 2-3 times today's capacity.  To be sure, these are challenges, but this is also a very exciting time to be in an industry undergoing such significant transformation.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Aug 1, 2022

Build significantly more interregional transmission to enable different regions of the country to share power when grid conditions become tight

Is the regulatory landscape in a position such that this can be accomplished in an optimal way, or are there still institutional barriers that prevent that? 

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Aug 2, 2022

I like to use analogies to communicate concepts; I've worked in the Energy industry since 1990, operating the electric grid used to be like driving a train - everything was fine as long as grid operators could keep the grid "on the rails" lumbering along. But this is no longer the case, now operating the grid is becoming more like driving a race car in the Monaco Grand Prix through the streets of Monte Carlo - twists and turns everywhere and lots of crashes to overcome.  

Joshua Aldridge's picture
Joshua Aldridge on Aug 8, 2022

Great summary! I wish I could say I was surprised that #2 wasn't #1, but I'm not. That one has been the major head scratcher for utilities of all sizes for 5-10 years now. The issue stems from the lack of DA requirements on the distribution side that makes DER quantifiable and dispatchable in near real-time. NERC is slowly making their way to distribution ops and engineering, and to me...that's not a bad thing. 

Sarah Beckman's picture
Thank Sarah for the Post!
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