Tree limbs and power lines don’t mix. That was the final verdict after overgrown trees caused blackouts immobilizing major swaths of the East Coast in 2003. (See Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), “Utility Vegetation Management (UVM): Final Report,” March 2004.)
North American Electric Reliability Corporation
Green energy mandates might overburden gas pipelines.
Market rules could evolve to compensate gas suppliers for pressurizing pipelines when needed on short notice. Enhanced ancillary services will require innovative strategies using line pack in interstate pipelines and stepped up communication among gas and electric market participants to preserve reliability objectives in gas and electric markets.
Increasing renewable generation threatens reliability.
An increased reliance on renewable energy could threaten reliability of the nation’s electric transmission grids by reducing the rotational mass and rotational inertia of on-line turbine generators, thus, reducing the capability of generators to respond to drops in voltage frequency. In fact, data collected from 1994 to 2009 for the Eastern Interconnection already reveals a drop in the grid’s capability (as measured in megawatts) to stop a very rapid drop in frequency — such as a drop of a tenth of a cycle per second.
Has the one-day-in-10-years criterion outlived its usefulness?
The one-day-in-10-years criterion might have lost its usefulness in today’s energy markets. The criterion is highly conservative when used in calculating reserve margins for reliability. Can the industry continue justifying the high cost of overbuilding?
Mitigating enforcement penalties in NERC hearings and appeals.
The North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) holds substantial enforcement powers as the nation’s electric reliability organization for bulk power transactions. Taking affirmative steps will help utilities and system operators to avoid or minimize NERC penalties.
The most economical energy savings might be found in grid efficiency.
Power delivery efficiency gains constitute a valuable utility asset that can offset or defer new generation and T&D investments. Enabling technologies, utility demonstration projects and supporting regulatory frameworks are needed to validate potential savings.
Transforming DR and smart-grid policies into reality.
Regulatory policies are evolving to make demand response and smart-grid planning a reality across the country. Cooperation between federal and state lawmakers will allow local flexibility within a uniform national framework.
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?
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.
The industry debates how far FERC should go.
Since the Energy Policy Act was enacted in 2005, the domestic power and gas industry has experienced several years of FERC compliance enforcement history. Including the settlements entered into in 2007, total penalties levied and agreed to by companies are close to $100 million over the past two years. Given the high stakes, some industry stakeholders have suggested that FERC could provide more comprehensive guidance on what it means to have an adequate compliance program and what constitutes that compliance.