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Power System Resilience: A Primer

By Blair Beasley,

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

The issue of ‘resilience’ of the power system—including how to best define, measure, and ensure it—has garnered substantial attention in recent months.

The energy policy community turned its collective focus to resilience issues following the devastating electric grid failures in Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) September 2017 proposal of the Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule. DOE submitted the proposed rulemaking to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the stated purpose of expeditiously bolstering the grid’s resilience and reliability. The proposal called for tariff changes to ensure the recovery of costs and a fair rate of return for qualifying generators with 90-day on-site fuel storage. FERC received more than 1,500 comments on the rulemaking. Many of these submissions commented on whether the issue of resilience has been sufficiently defined.

On January 8, 2018, FERC issued a unanimous decision to end consideration of the proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule and to initiate a new proceeding to holistically examine the resilience of the bulk power system. The commission gave RTOs and ISOs 60 days (until March 9) to respond to a series of questions about resilience in their geographic footprint. At the close of that comment period, other interested parties will have 30 days to issue comment. The Commission plans to review comments and decide whether additional FERC action to address grid resilience is warranted.

This primer seeks to provide a high-level introduction to the concept of power sector resilience—highlighting what research has been done on the topic as well as key areas where more work is needed.

This primer seeks to provide a high-level introduction to the concept of power sector resilience—highlighting what research has been done on the topic as well as key areas where more work is needed. This includes a discussion of how resilience is defined and measured; what threats the power system should be resilient to; how this term is related to, but distinct from, reliability; and what organizations are working to better define and measure resilience.

KEYWORDS: DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY, FERC

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