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Utility Dive: The power grid faced heat waves, record demand and tight conditions in 2022. What happens next?

Posted by Kavya Balaraman on Nov 22, 2022

Utility Dive examined grid reliability issues popping up across the U.S., quoting Amisha Rai and Caitlin Marquis on regional and national solutions. Read snippets below and the full article here.

Power systems across the U.S. faced challenging grid reliability conditions over the past year, but managed to avoid the worst-case scenario of prolonged outages thanks to a combination of policy measures implemented over the last couple of years and luck, experts say.

All over the country, a changing climate and extreme weather events – whether due to high temperatures, low temperatures or storms and hurricanes – are posing a threat to grid reliability, according to Eric Gimon, senior fellow with Energy Innovation. Weather patterns are changing from what the U.S. historically experienced, and are going to continue to get more extreme, he said, and “what seems unusual today will seem more normal tomorrow. This is a one-way street right now.”..

Utility Dive took a closer look at three parts of the country — California, Texas and the Pacific Northwest — that are facing grid reliability challenges to see how they fared in 2022, and provide an outlook for 2023 and beyond...

...states like California need to implement more effective critical peak pricing programs...

Another question that regulators will need to work on in the West is how California and its neighboring states work together in a more organized fashion to ensure they are able to keep the lights on, added Amisha Rai, AEE managing director. Several Western states are ratcheting up their usage of renewables and there is a heavy demand for affordable, clean energy, which means policymakers need to look at utilizing transmission assets in the most efficient way possible, she said.

This includes “really thinking about how an RTO in the West can better enable all of that delivery, facilitate renewables across the system and ensure that we are not leaving any renewables behind if there is excess supply…” she added. A July report from AEE found that the creation of a West-wide regional transmission organization — something that policymakers have been discussing for more than two decades — could lead to $79.2 billion in additional annual gross regional product across 11 states.

In Texas, meanwhile, regulators earlier this month approved a pilot project to allow for aggregations of distributed energy resources to participate in the ERCOT market, which aims at harnessing some 80 MW of flexible resources on the grid. The pilot is estimated to last for three years, and several utilities are expected to participate in it. 

Looking over the next few years, a key priority for regulators in the region will need to be getting lessons from the first phase of the pilot and expanding those to better allow DERs to participate in the markets, AEE’s Marquis said. 

Another priority will need to be expanding opportunities for energy efficiency, according to Marquis

“Texas is one of the least energy-efficient states. It also has a really quickly growing residential population, so there’s a ton of potential for energy efficiency improvements… that will be critical to making sure that the state is able to meet customer needs in both winter and summer,” she added.

And then there’s the issue of transmission planning... Addressing transmission infrastructure needs to make sure that new resources like wind, solar and battery storage are able to come online in Texas, and generation is able to reach load where needed, will be critical to reliability, Marquis said.

Read the full article here.

Topics: California Engagement, 21st Century Electricity System, Wholesale Markets, AEE In The News, Texas, Caitlin Marquis, Amisha Rai