FERC commissioners tell senators of major grid reliability challenges, with some blaming markets

Spread the love

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission commissioners speak at a May 4, 2023, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing. Retrieved from Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

From Watts Up With That?

This article from UTILITY DIVE covers testimony by commissioners at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing.

The U.S. grid faces major reliability challenges, according to members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission who used the word 34 times in their prepared testimony Thursday at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.

There is a “looming reliability crisis in our electricity markets,” FERC Commissioner James Danly said.

“The United States is heading for a very catastrophic situation in terms of reliability,” FERC Commissioner Mark Christie said.

FERC Acting Chairman Willie Phillips said, “We face unprecedented challenges to the reliability of our nation’s electric system.”

Growing reliability and resilience challenges from extreme weather and cyber and physical security threats require changes to the U.S. grid, according to FERC Commissioner Allison Clements.https://www.utilitydive.com/news/ferc-grid-reliability-senate-energy-hearing/649523/


Christie said the main problem is that power plants are being retired at a faster pace than they’re being replaced, pointing to estimates from the PJM Interconnection.

About 40 GW, or 21% of PJM’s installed capacity, is at risk of retiring by 2030, the largest U.S. grid operator said in a Feb. 24 report. PJM expects only 15.1 GW to 30.6 GW of accredited capacity to come online by 2030.

“The arithmetic doesn’t work,” Christie said. “This problem is coming. It’s coming quickly. The red lights are flashing.”

Increasing transmission capability was discussed.

Also, new transmission could help ease reliability problems, according to Phillips.

“Transmission plays a critical role in facilitating the interconnection of new resources, while ensuring that the electric system remains reliable,” he said.

Phillips said he hopes FERC can issue an interregional transmission planning reform proposal in the “very near term.”

The points made during the commisioners’ testimony was disputed by Environmental Organizations.

Danly’s criticism of subsidies for renewable energy was off base, according to Devin Hartman, director of Energy and Environmental Policy at the R Street Institute, a free market-oriented public policy research group.

“Capacity markets secure sufficient levels of capacity irrespective of subsidy levels, but they cannot procure resources that governments prevent from being built or retained,” he said.

Also, utility integrated resource planning in RTOs can cause reliability problems, according to Hartman.

Read the full article here.