Electric Grid: Reliable and Resilient
The electric grid has been the focus of many discussions since the events of last February. There has been some very good discussion in hopes to prevent this type of emergency from happening again. In various discussions, de-briefings, and articles, I have noticed a slight change in wording when describing our expectations of the electric grid. It appears we are using “resilient” instead of “reliable” far too often. What is the difference between these two terms?
Looking back over history of the District, we have always been here to serve the customers with safe and reliable electric service at the lowest cost. Reliability has been a priority of the Board of Director and employees since the day I started working here. This is what the customers have come to expect and deserve.
In recent years we have added resiliency to the grid with new technologies. This comes in the form of connectivity to meters, monitoring equipment and irrigation load control/demand response. The connectivity has allowed system operators and line technicians to identify issues at early stages and take proactive steps to improve service and maintain a high level of reliability. Cybersecurity is a risk related to this connectivity. This requires ongoing training and monitoring of our systems in place to keep the grid operational and secure.
As we transform the grid to carbon-free generation resources, reliability is the ongoing challenge. We are moving from traditional generating resources that have adequate fuel supply to renewable resources that depend on certain weather conditions for them to operate. I sense the industry is transitioning from reliable to resilient to describe the carbon-free grid we are working towards. This may not be the direction many customers want to go especially if reliable power is your expectation. At the distribution level, we cannot guarantee 100 percent electric service to every customer all the time, however, we are making investments to improve the chances this will happen rather than lowering the expectation.
I will always advocate for a reliable electric grid with added resiliency. This combination can benefit the end-use customer. If we replace reliability with resiliency, then we can all expect to experience power interruptions like we saw in February of this year. Electric service is an essential part of our lives and it is critical to society. The electric grid must remain reliable, and we will continue to do our part at Stanton County PPD.
Chad Waldow; General Manager CEO