Electric Grid Will Stay Ahead of the Curve on the Clean Power Plan

Electric Grid Will Stay Ahead of the Curve on the Clean Power Plan

In a timely new report, three prominent electric grid industry experts refute claims that the president's proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants will jeopardize electric grid reliability. The authors, Susan Tierney, Eric Svenson, and Brian Parsons, explain that those claims undervalue the grid's strengths and the Clean Power Plan's flexible design. They also chart a role for grid planners to help states develop their plans to cut carbon pollution.

Their conclusion is noteworthy:

We are confident that we can achieve a lower-emissions electricity grid while maintaining reliability. Our electric system is designed to maintain reliable, dependable service through both typical, steady-state conditions and uncommon, unanticipated events. This design the combination of infrastructure elements, policies, and operations is what enables the system to adapt to the market transitions already under way, and will also allow the system to adapt to the long term goals as envisioned under the proposed Clean Power Plan.

Tierney, Parson, and Svenson, who have more than 100 years combined experience in the power sector, prepared their report in the aftermath of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) recent public meetings on the Clean Power Plan. It is a must read for anyone interested in a thoughtful perspective on the reliability issues raised at those meetings.

Grid Planners Have Many Tools to Maintain Reliability

In their report, Tierney, Parsons, and Svenson find that the Clean Power Plan gives states ample flexibility to cut carbon pollution. For example, the Plan gives states more than a decade to achieve relatively modest cuts in carbon pollution, and states can use market-based solutions to avoid reliability issues. That flexibility, combined with existing power grid management tools and practices, mean that grid planners can handle reliability issues related to plan implementation in stride, just as they have done for decades. These tools and practices include:

    Electric transmission policies that have reinforced the nation's grid infrastructure;
    Favorable market conditions for developing natural gas infrastructure, and a robust and diverse existing network of pipelines;
    Ample experience with integrating higher levels of carbon-free renewable energy, which also can provide reliability services;
    Ability to maintain specific power plants needed for reliability, even if they run less frequently than their historic levels, though capacity payments, reliability must run contracts, and other measures; and
    Programs across the country focused on building resiliency of the grid though peak events, often responding rapidly to changing conditions.

All of this means that the evolving grid, including anticipated changes likely to occur by 2020, will be well-positioned to meet near-term Clean Power Plan emission reduction targets.

Source: Renewable Energy World.com

Smart Grid Bulletin March 2019

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