Experts convene to talk grid reliability

Leading experts from electric utilities, cooperatives and federal agencies around the country convened recently for the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) Reliability Leadership Summit to share experiences, learn from each other and discuss emerging risks to the reliability and security of the electric grid.

Great River Energy’s Vice President and Chief Transmission Officer Priti Patel moderated a panel discussion that focused on extreme natural events, the unique challenges they create and ways to prepare for them. The panelists also discussed the impacts of “people” events, such as the current pandemic.

Priti Patel

“Risk of extreme weather causing long, sustained outages is a very real risk that has been experienced by utilities across the country. The more we understand about new, emerging threats surrounding extreme events, the better we can prepare,” Patel said.

She said these panel conversations help NERC understand if additional standards are needed to manage reliability. Patel is a member of NERC’s Reliability Issues Steering Committee, which provides key insights, priorities and high-level leadership for issues of strategic importance to the bulk power system.

In her opening remarks, Patel said the discussion on extreme natural events was particularly timely since there were 22 disaster events last year in the United States. Hurricanes, major ice storms and wildfires were responsible for more than $1 billion in losses each. Patel said these events affect every component of the bulk power system.

“Whether we are utilities, governmental bodies or suppliers, all of us in the electric industry are challenged to improve or enhance our knowledge and preparedness before, during and after extreme natural events,” Patel said.

Providing leadership in industry forums helps ensure that electric cooperatives have a voice when it comes to the reliability of the electric system.

“It’s important for Great River Energy to share its expertise and experiences in a broader industry discourse and also to learn from the experiences of others,” Patel said.