2021 In Review
As we reach the end of 2021, let’s take a look back at the key events that impacted our industry. From the ongoing pandemic to weather events to the ongoing impact of renewables. 2021 brought many challenges.
The People Who Make It All Work
Until we get near total automation in running the power grid, human performance is the absolute highest concern for both safety and reliability. When our work force is diminished in any fashion, the likelihood of disruptions to the delivery of energy increases. This year, we’ve seen our industry focusing on human performance by increasing and enhancing training and developing business continuity plans to mitigate disruptions to the experienced work force on which we all depend.
For 2022, we see these efforts increasing to help manage not only threats from the Covid-19 virus but also retirement and relocation of vital human resources.
I witnessed the February 2021, cold weather-related interruptions in power delivery to ERCOT and elsewhere, from a relatively secure Midwest location. Since then, I have moved back to Texas and now have a deep and personal interest in keeping the lights on when freezing weather returns.
The Texas Public Utility Commission has taken preliminary phased steps to require generators to develop plans for managing and communicating their anticipated production in cold weather. NERC has also launched Project 2021-07 in a Standards Authorization Request to modify existing standards to include cold weather requirements for both generators and transmission operators. It remains to be seen how the natural gas production and delivery infrastructure will be affected but they are a crucial piece of the puzzle. We’ll keep a keen eye on these and other developments in 2022 to remain vigilant of where all of this is going, and for opportunities to add to the conversation when needed.
Solar and wind-powered generators, both utility scale and smaller installations, continue to claim greater portions of the generation mix of the Bulk Electric System. System operators will continue to evaluate and refine their processes to integrate these resources into predictable and stable operation models. Guidance has been issued by NERC for modeling these resources and we can look forward to more defined standards in 2022.
Within these risks there are areas of opportunity to not only preserve reliability but to even enhance operations.
There are worse things than having a renewed focus on our increasingly valuable human resources, having a wealth of clean and efficient generation to integrate, and taking steps to incorporate established cold weather operation measures for areas not accustomed to dealing with them. We look forward to maintaining the highest level of electric power reliability in the world and assuring our people are properly valued and have the tools to keep doing what they do.