News & media

Grid chief: Operators pulling ‘rabbits’ to keep lights on

BY Peter Behr, E&E News reporter | July 8, 2019



Stresses on parts of the power grid have operators scrambling for ways to keep the lights on.

In Texas, where backup power reserves are stretched to the limit, most engineers would conclude that “there’s no way in hell they can keep the lights on,” said Jim Robb, CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corp. “And yet they do.”

In New England, the head of the regional grid operator, Gordon van Welie, has needed a magician’s touch to escape natural gas shortages for power plants, Robb added at a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission conference last month.

“Gordon up in New England constantly finds another rabbit to pull out of his hat to keep the lights on when any of us would look at that situation and say, ‘It’s got to break,'” Robb said.

California’s power network, newly reliant on solar power and strained natural gas supplies, rounds out a trio of regional grids drawing attention from federal regulators over the challenges they face.

“We’ve got three really interesting hot spots in the country right now that are challenging everything that everybody in this room thinks about how an electric system should be operated,” Robb told assembled grid experts at the June 27 meeting at FERC headquarters in Washington, D.C. (read complete article)


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