January/February 2021 | Vol. 26 No. 1
by Stacy Tatman, Senior Manager, Government Affairs, NEMA
The nation’s electrical infrastructure is evolving to meet the fast-changing demands of a competitive modern economy.
Co-sponsored by NEMA and the Macro Grid Initiative (MGI), the third annual Grid Modernization Summit held four 90-minute sessions in November. Similar to last year’s event (except virtual) this year’s summit covered key aspects of grid modernization, including interregional transmission, electric vehicles, microgrids, and cybersecurity. The event showcased how expansion and renovation of our nation’s electrical transmission network will make the power system more clean, reliable, resilient, and secure while bringing costs down for consumers.
Grid Innovation Caucus (GIC) Co-Chairs Representatives Bob Latta (R-OH) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA) kicked off the virtual summit. After the introductory remarks, the first 90-minute session covered issues related to the Executive Order on Securing the United States Bulk-Power System. The panel, moderated by NEMA VP of Government Relations, Phil Squair, addressed how industry manufacturers are already mitigating cybersecurity risks in the supply chain by following industry Standards and best practices. The panel also explored opportunities for government–industry collaboration on securing the U.S. grid.
The second session focused on the recent Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order 2222, thought to be a game-changer for the distributed energy resources (DER) market. FERC has told bulk power system operators to remove all barriers that prevent technologies like rooftop solar, microgrids, and even EV charging from participating in bulk power auctions. Consequently, market operators must now write their own participation rules, and the session participants discussed how the DER market might respond.
The third session examined the energy and transportation industries that are being aggressively disrupted by converging exponential technologies. As we move toward a future where clean tech renewable sources will meet our energy needs, the new transportation revolution sets the stage for a future of seamlessly efficient travel at lower economic and environmental costs. The speakers for this session explored how the interconnection of energy and transportation is already occurring.
Congressman Scott Peters (D-CA) launched the final event, which looked at the transmission requirements for our nation’s vast wind and solar resources. These energy supplies cannot be developed without upgrading and expanding the transmission network to deliver the power to population centers where it’s needed. Since U.S. investment in a robust transmission grid lags behind other nations, this panel discussed the challenges facing expanding and upgrading high-voltage inter-regional transmission across the country. Grid experts looked at the reliability, consumer, and environmental benefits of high-voltage transmission connecting states and regions.
NEMA President and CEO Kevin Cosgriff and the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) President and CEO Gregory Wetstone provided closing remarks.
“Achieving a truly connected 21st century- worthy national Macro Grid represents enormous economic, social, and security benefits for our country,” Cosgriff said during the summit’s closing remarks. “But when contemplating what may be the most complex system yet built by humankind, we know its systematic modernization will not be easy, fast, or inexpensive.”
“We need the regulatory framework that will allow the market to sort out the economics, better-permitting laws to facilitate interconnection and grid stability and policies that allow for cost recovery for modern grid investments. NEMA Members are made up of people eager to work constructively with the government to build a better, electrified future for America,” Cosgriff added. ei