By Kavya Balaraman
Utility Dive, Nov. 22, 2022
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.”
In Texas, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas grid experienced extreme temperatures and peak loads, but has so far avoided widespread blackouts in 2022; California underwent a heat wave in September and despite very tight power supply conditions, also managed to prevent large-scale outages. The Pacific Northwest, meanwhile, experienced high temperatures this year, although not as severe as during the heat wave it underwent in 2021, and also avoided prolonged outages.
Power system stakeholders are grappling with these issues and doing what they can in a relatively short period to prepare the grid for changing weather and demand patterns, according to Arne Olson, senior partner with Energy and Environmental Economics.
In general, the grid fared better in 2022 than the previous year or two, which experts attribute in part to luck — that is, relatively less challenging weather conditions — as well as a host of measures implemented by grid operators and planners, like mobilizing demand response and bringing online new battery storage in California, which “if they hadn’t done those things we would not have got through that situation without a blackout,” said Olson.
Looking to the future, however, experts say that different regions of the country will need to invest in transmission and other grid infrastructure, build more power resources and demand response capabilities, and work in a more organized fashion with each other to make sure they’re able to keep the lights on.
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.
Read the full article on Utility Dive.