Resuming progress after 2011’s uncertainty.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
From the Fukushima disaster and its repercussions, to the raging battle over new EPA regulations, 2011 was one of the most volatile years on record for the electric power business. Will 2012 be better or worse than 2011? Cost factors make this a great time to invest, but overhanging uncertainties might bring another year of fear.
1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid; 2. Carbon Not a Nuisance (Yet); 3. Gigabucks for Negawatts; 4. A MOPR, Not a NOPR; 5. Ramp Up the Frequency; 6. Cap-and-Trade Still Lives; 7. Cyber Insecurity; 8. Korridor Killer; 9. The Burden Not Shared; 10. Ozone Can Wait.
Protecting the smart grid requires a broader strategy.
NERC’s critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards set a minimum level of security performance—and only for high-voltage transmission systems, not the distribution grid. A compliance-checklist approach to security might lack the adaptability needed to combat evolving threats like the Stuxnet worm. A multi-layered, risk-based approach will provide better protection for the emerging smart grid.
Protecting critical assets in a hazardous world.
In the wake of recent global-scale cyber intrusions, security concerns have expanded from being compliance and operational issues to fundamental risk management considerations. An integrated, enterprise-wide approach holds the greatest promise for securing critical utility infrastructure against increasing dangers in cyberspace.
Living in the new world of mandatory reliability standards.
Zhen Zhang and Matthew Stern
Mandatory reliability standards put in place by NERC three years ago give reason for optimism concerning their success. But the organization struggles with standards development, compliance, enforcement and transparency.
How much efficiency do ratepayers need—and utilities want?
When the applause dies down, the smart grid may turn out to be its own worst enemy. The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) explained this irony in comments it filed in May, after the FERC asked the industry for policy ideas on the smart grid.
Who will oversee the industry’s cyber standards?
Darren Reece Highfill and Vishant Shah
Who will oversee the industry’s cyber standards? Effective security calls for a single organization to set standards that will protect the smart grid. The industry is struggling to reach consensus over authority, scope and funding for its new security apparatus.
Will Congress dare to put local wires under federal control?
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Congress hasn’t amended the Federal Power Act in any way that would change the status quo, and a bright line still separates the distribution business from the federally regulated bulk-power system. Pending legislation, however, might change that.
A clear and present need for nuclear energy expansion.
C.E. (Gene) Carpenter Jr.
The new administration might be our last, best hope for recapturing America’s technological and economic superiority. The time has come to institute an “Apollo Project” level of effort to convert to a carbon-free energy infrastructure while tossing aside the business-as-usual model. The future lies in nuclear power.
CIP audits show utilities are just getting started with securing the grid.
Bad news from the front lines in the cyber-security war: Little meaningful progress has been made toward safeguarding the nation’s electric grid from malicious attacks. Initial cyber-security assessments and audits suggest few companies really are ready to implement the first wave of NERC critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards, despite the fact the utility industry drafted the regulations.