Mitigating Risk to Grid Reliability

by Walt Bukowski, NERC Reliability Specialist

The 2023 RISC Report has identified five significant risks that have evolved in the world today and identified in the 2023 ERO Reliability Risk Priorities Report. The following five risks are energy policy, grid transformation, resilience to extreme events, and critical infrastructure interdependencies. We will focus on Energy Policy in this article.

Energy policy is new and causes broad implications across the risk profiles. Energy policy can drive change in the Bulk Power System planning and operation in the short periods, affecting reliability and resilience. Implementation of Energy Policies in the areas of decarbonization, decentralization, and electrification to ensure reliability during and after transition. Implementation of Energy Policies in these areas is accelerating due to the changes in resources mix, extreme weather events, physical and cyber security challenges, reliability implications are emerging. Continued problems of Energy Policy are the critical dependence of energy sufficiency as well as natural gas and electric interdependence as well as the emerging risk of aggregate DER (Distributed Energy Resources) due to its interdependency of critical infrastructure (i.e., electricity, natural gas, water, transportation, and communication). So, the development of reliability standards and processes recognizes and respects the jurisdictional authorities setting and implementing policy decisions. These risks will take strong collaboration and partnership across a multitude of boundaries to mitigate the emerging risk.

The Energy Policy addresses evaluating these topics to have the most impact and likelihood of mitigating risk:

  • Energy sufficiency – resource adequacy planning,
  • Resource mix – natural gas and renewables variable energy,
  • Extreme weather events – develop lessons learn and models from events, and
  • Physical and cyber security – being able to keep pace and change quickly.

NERC’s recommendation for migrating the risk is a continual building on its outreach and collaboration with state commissioners, with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners and with critical interdependent sectors. This would entail continual increase of coordination and collaboration between federal, provincial, and state policy makers, regulators, owners, and operators of the BPS. In summary the Energy Policy should include timelines for implementation which create a reliability risk, traditional resources adequacy approaches need to be amended to ensure energy sufficiency, natural gas and electricity policymakers should be working together to create better infrastructure reliability, resources should be coming from all parts of the grid, increase communication, coordination, and collaboration of all parties in involved in the BPS.