On July 22, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), Palo Alto, Calif., and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Atlanta, announced the creation of an agreement in which both organizations will begin to collaborate in ways that are designed to improve the reliability and resilience of the North American electric grid.
While the two terms are often confused or used interchangeably, reliability and resilience are different. Reliability is a “before-the-fact” concept, in that it involves a combination of grid adequacy (having sufficient generation to meet loads on an as-needed basis) and grid security (having the ability to withstand disturbances). Resilience, on the other hand, is an “after-the-fact” concept, in that it involves the ability of the grid to withstand and reduce the magnitude and duration of disruptive events. This includes the ability to anticipate, absorb, adapt to and rapidly recover from such events.
In addition to the benefits electric utilities’ customers will receive from improved grid reliability and resilience, the outcomes of this collaboration could have implications for contractors involved in activities related to transmission, distribution and substations.
The two organizations are bringing various types of expertise to the partnership. EPRI is an organization that conducts research and development (R&D) related to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. NERC is set up to strengthen the grid by ensuring effective and efficient reduction of risks to the grid’s reliability and security and, along with six regional entities, is part of the Electric Reliability Organization.
According to the joint press release on the partnership, the organizations noted that, “As the U.S. takes critical steps to reduce carbon emissions across the economy, the two organizations will leverage their collective knowledge to more efficiently and effectively respond to power sector challenges.”
Mark Lauby, senior vice president for energy delivery and customer solutions and chief sustainability officer for NERC, added that, “The transformation of the grid presents a number of challenges today and into the future. The results of our joint planning and subsequent research projects provide the science, tools and processes needed to effectively mitigate existing and emerging risks to the reliable operation of the North American bulk power system.”
Together, the two organizations plan to meet on a regular basis and coordinate their efforts on several aspects. These include supporting effective implementation of industry resources to address emerging issues, jointly sponsoring workshops and meetings, and identifying and working together on key projects and activities as they relate to grid resilience and reliability.