NERC’s Report on the Past and Plans for the Future

Energy Grid

In July, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) released its “2022 State of Reliability” – a review of the performance of the nation’s electric grid.

The report noted that the grid withstood an unprecedented combination of challenges in 2021, including extreme and sustained weather events, increasingly sophisticated and severe cyber and physical threats, and the urgent need to reliably integrate the rapidly-growing fleet of inverter-based resources. These challenges, said NERC, tested grid reliability, resilience and security.

In spite of these conditions, though, NERC said that operators succeeded in maintaining grid reliability with one notable exception – the February 2021Texas and South-Central United States cold weather event that led to the largest controlled load shed event in North American history.

Based on data and information collected on grid performance in 2021, NERC’s report identified six key findings:

1 – The February 2021 cold weather event demonstrated that a significant portion of the generation fleet in the impacted areas was unable to supply power during extreme cold weather.

2 – Electricity and natural gas interdependencies are no longer emerging risks, but ones that require immediate attention, including the implementation of mitigation strategies.

3 – Severe weather challenged the grid, putting resilience into focus.

4 – Geopolitical events, new vulnerabilities, new and changing technologies, and “increasingly bold cyber criminals and hacktivists” presented serious challenges to the reliability of the grid.

5 – Large geographic areas have become dependent upon renewable resources to meet peak loads, and multiple instances of the loss of solar in Texas and California in 2021 confirm that unaddressed inverter issues increased reliability risk.

6 – Additional data types are needed to enable more complete analysis of Adequate Level of Reliability (ALR) performance objectives.

NERC added that leading indicators show that the bulk power system continues to perform in a highly reliable and resilient manner with year-over-year improvement, demonstrating the success of industry actions. “There are a number of favorable performance trends, including relay misoperation rates, transmission outage severity and frequency of qualified events, that conclusively show industry improvements and commitment to mitigate reliability threats,” said Donna Pratt, manager of Performance Analysis and State of Reliability project lead for NERC. “However, the rapidly changing risk profile requires new approaches to navigate reliability effectively. Significant events in 2021 highlight the need for aggressive action.”

To address these issues, NERC noted that it, and its ERO Enterprise, are taking the following actions:

1 – The ERO Enterprise is quickly implementing the recommendations in the FERC, NERC and Regional Entity Staff Report, titled “The February 2021 Cold Weather Outages in Texas and the South-Central United States.”

2 – The ERO Enterprise is actively encouraging registered entities to conduct studies to model plausible and extreme natural gas disruptions set forth in NERC’s “Reliability Guideline: Fuel Assurance and Fuel-related Reliability Risks.”

3 – The ERO Enterprise is expanding and further refining resilience and restoration analysis by examining generation and load loss, as well as improving linkage between grid equipment outages and weather data.

4 – The industry is developing security-informed institutional practices that leverage security frameworks and activities to protect and secure the operational and organizational environment.

5 – The ERO Enterprise and the industry are implementing the recommendations set forth in the “Odessa Disturbance Report” and the “2021 CAISO Solar PV Disturbance Report” that include incorporating electromagnetic transient modeling into reliability standards and developing comprehensive ride-through requirements focused specifically on generator protections and controls.

6 – NERC is identifying appropriate approaches for measuring ALR performance objectives where gaps have been identified.



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