WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today kicked-off part one of its fourth ‘Powering America’ hearing with a review of electric reliability issues and grid resiliency.
“Electricity is a fundamental and essential part of our everyday lives,” said Vice Chairman Pete Olson (R-TX). “A system failure impacts our health, wealth, and national security. These impacts were felt first-hand in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. These recent natural disasters highlight the importance of a reliable grid that is not too dependent on one source of energy.”
Gerry Cauley, President and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, discussed the evolving grid and what can be done to ensure resiliency moving forward, commenting, “The transitioning electricity sector poses challenges and opportunities for reliability. Retirements of baseload generation and the addition of greater variable resources are altering the operating characteristics of the grid. A significant influx of natural gas generation raises unique considerations for fuel delivery and dependence. To address the challenges and capitalize upon the benefits of a more diverse resource mix, industry stakeholders and policy makers must understand and plan for the implications of the ongoing evolution. With a focus on these challenges, the grid can become even more reliable and resilient.”
In his questioning, #SubEnergy Vice Chair Olson asked Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Neil Chatterjee what FERC is doing to prepare for future threats to the grid in the event of cyberattacks. To which FERC Chairman Chatterjee replied, “The commission and I myself take cybersecurity and protecting our grid from cyberattacks very seriously. FERC is focused on ensuring reliability in the face of some of the cyber challenges that we have. We also have an office of energy infrastructure security that’s trying to stay ahead of potential threats to the grid and participate in some of these activities. There’s no question that threats to our system of electricity generation, distribution, whether from hurricanes or from cyberattacks are of the utmost importance and concern to the commission and I will continue to work with you all and my colleagues to ensure the safety of our grid.”
Patricia Hoffman, Acting Secretary for Science, Acting Assistant Secretary for the Office of Electricity at the U.S. Department of Energy, spoke to the importance of grid resiliency, stating, “The changing resource mix, recent severe weather events, and the dynamic nature of grid technologies – including changes on the demand side – are bringing grid resilience to a new, more prominent place in the discussion. Specifically, as we keep one eye on day to day reliability as well as resource adequacy, we must also begin to incorporate resilience into the discussion. Weather events such as the Polar Vortex or Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are stark reminders of the need to have a bulk power system that can withstand stresses and recover from the quickly.”
For more information on today’s hearing including a background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast, click HERE.
For more information on the committee’s ‘Powering America’ series, click HERE.