Infrastructure investment has been on a starvation diet. Here’s how to feed the need.
Kurt Yeager is executive director of the Galvin Electricity Initiative. He also is president emeritus of the Electric Power Research Institute and chairman of the World Energy Council’s study on energy and climate change. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In October, the North American Electric Reliability Council (NERC) issued its first long-term reliability assessment report in its new role as the nation’s federally mandated reliability organization. The report found that under current trends the U.S. electric power system may not be able to meet customer demand in much of the country 10 years from now.
While this estimate made headlines around the country, it was hardly shocking news to those of us in the field. What should be alarming, however, is the continued belief that we can incrementalize our way out of this impending crisis by installing more of the same outmoded technology.
Because of its life-support investment diet, the electricity infrastructure has grown dangerously vulnerable to all manner of reliability, security, and service infirmities. The 2005 Energy Policy Act provides an important initial stimulus for this transformation.
Transformative change will require massive shifts in every aspect of the electricity sector, from how we define reliability to how electricity is regulated and sold. It will require a working consensus that electricity is more than just another form of commodity energy, but is instead the underpinning of our modern quality of life and the nation’s indispensable engine of prosperity.