NERC Focuses on Collaboration and Coordination During Rapid Grid Transformation January 31, 2023
In late January, the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation’s (NERC’S) Reliability Issues Steering Committee (RISC) held its biennial Reliability Leadership Summit, with a focus on the importance of collaboration and coordination the ensure reliability during the grid’s rapid transformation. The summit was attended by industry experts, state and federal regulators, leaders from the U.S. and Canadian government, and more than 250 virtual observers. Mark Lauby, NERC’s senior vice president and chief engineer, and Brian Slocum, RISC chair and senior vice president and chief operating officer at ITC Holdings Corp., served as hosts.
In specific, this year’s day-long summit focused on reliability issues related to energy policy, security, the rapidly evolving resource mix and technology innovation, and their impacts on the reliable operation of the bulk power system. The summit opened with remarks from Willie Phillips, acting chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Phillips emphasized that reliability was “job number one,” and shared his three key areas of focus:
- cyber and physical security,
- extreme weather, and
- grid resiliency during this period of rapidly changing resources.
In particular, Phillips noted the proliferation of inverter-based resources and the importance of reliably integrating these new energy resources. He also emphasized that affordability must be factored into the reliability equation. The event featured four panels discussing matters relating to: reliability, resilience, security operations, and policy.
There were several consistent themes throughout the panel discussions, including the need for: The panelists agreed that NERC is in a unique position to inform the discussion, and they emphasized NERC’s important role in educating policymakers and stakeholders, highlighting reliability issues through its assessments and reports, and convening industry, policymakers and stakeholders to discuss solutions at events like the Reliability Leadership Summit.
Jim Robb, NERC’s president and CEO, closed the summit by encouraging the “ecosystem” of industry and government partners to “get on the offensive,” to raise the bar, and to keep reliability, resilience, and security on the table, saying, “The goal of the electric system is to strike a balance between reliability and security, access and affordability, and safety and the environment. Recent major events highlight the need to regain the balance across all three, and I believe we can make strong progress as long as we keep that balance in place.”
Feedback and observations from the event will be shared in a RISC report that will be used to inform NERC’s work plan on key priorities in the coming years. The report is expected to be published in August 2023.