Want to define resiliency? Look no further than Rocky Balboa, says Hyland

These days in the power sector, there is much discussion about resiliency, but how exactly do you define it?

For Michael Hyland, Senior Vice President, Engineering Services, at the American Public Power Association, the answer to that question can be found in the fighting spirit of Rocky Balboa, who rose from the streets of Philadelphia to the pinnacle of boxing competition in his fight with Apollo Creed in the movie “Rocky.”

“I enjoy the word resilience because I don’t think anyone’s really defined it,” Hyland said on Oct. 24 in appearance at the International Summit On The Electric Transmission Grid in Washington, D.C., which was sponsored by WIRES, a non-profit trade association that promotes investment in the North American electric transmission system.

“I was born and raised in Philly. The greatest thing to come out of Philly was Rocky,” he said in reference to the Academy Award-winning 1977 film.

“I always look at resiliency this way. We all are in the scope of reliability and the reliability of Rocky is he gets in the ring, he knows what he’s going to do and he begins to fight,” Hyland said. As the fight progresses, Rocky can keep from falling to the mat through strategies to harden himself round after round.

“He hardens himself and his system. Resiliency is the ability for him to get back up against Apollo Creed. That’s resilience. It’s the snap back mentality that someone may have or a system may have,” Hyland went on to say.

Hyland said that just as you can’t say that the entire boxing industry is resilient, you also can’t argue that things like a distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) equal resiliency in the power industry.

“You’ve got to start defining what resiliency is. It’s the ability to snap back when something goes wrong on our system,” he said.

Hyland participated on a panel at the summit that focused on grid modernization and technology deployment.

Hyland emphasizes costs and cybersecurity

Meanwhile, he said that any discussion about topics such as transmission and microgrids needs to include the question of costs.

“Not once did I hear us talk about cost,” Hyland said in reference to the comments of other panelists. “In the municipal environment, we’re nonprofit. We’re trying to keep the lights on at the lowest cost we can, environmentally friendly [and] do it in a safe and secure manner.”

Cybersecurity also can’t be overlooked, he noted. “The more we start interconnecting this grid – whether it’s the transmission level, transmission to distribution, distribution to distribution, distribution to the customer – every time you put a new gadget where you want to look at that shiny new nickel, ‘Oh my gosh, I can have my cable TV connect to my car,’ you’re adding an inject point for cyber problems,” Hyland said.

“That’s something that keeps us up at night in the engineering field,” he said. “Every time we connect it’s another injection point for the bad guys,” Hyland said.

“As we go forward, we need to keep that in mind every time we put one of these bells and whistles, phasors, whatever it may be on our transmission and/or distribution system or customer system, that we have to have cyber security front of mind.  How do we protect ourselves from a mass attack? How do we protect ourselves from a regional attack, a local attack?”

Department of Energy “is a gem”

At a later point, Hyland and other panelists were asked to discuss whether the right tools and models are available for the development of the grid in the U.S. and Canada.

“I sometimes wonder if we have too many models,” Hyland said. “Everybody has a model.”

He said that the Department of Energy “is a gem. I can’t say this enough.” He highlighted the Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium, which was established as a strategic partnership between DOE and the national laboratories to bring together leading experts, technologies, and resources to collaborate on the goal of modernizing the nation’s grid.

Hyland noted that the Association works closely with DOE in many areas including mutual aid and collaboration with the DOE’s national laboratories “and some of the modeling they do is awesome.” However, sometimes that modeling doesn’t get out to the end utility, he pointed out.

The problem that arises with too many models being generated by the power sector, contractors, consultants or universities is that “we’re not breaking it down into everybody getting on the same page and having a policy outlook based on a single model going forward,” Hyland said.

UAMPS and small modular reactors

At a later point, an audience member asked panelists to discuss what they think is the biggest thing that will happen in the next five to 10 years in the power sector that people are underestimating.

Hyland pointed to the development of small modular reactors (SMRs) over a timeframe closer to the next 10 years.

Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a public power agency that provides electricity at wholesale to more than 40 community-owned electric utilities in the Intermountain West, is working with NuScale Power on a project that involves the installation of 12 SMRs in Idaho. The first commercial 12-module NuScale power plant is planned to be built on the site of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

The project will include 12 individual 50-megawatt modules.

Members of UAMPS this past summer executed power sales contracts totaling more than 150 MW of subscription in the 12-module SMR that will be built at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory under UAMPS’ Carbon Free Power Project.

NuScale in July said that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission had completed the second and third phases of review of the company’s SMR design.  NuScale said that the NRC remains on track to complete its review of NuScale’s design by September 2020.

“I think the idea of having nuclear in 50 megawatt increments is a whole new look at nuclear,” Hyland said.