Washington D.C., September 30, 2021— Roy Jones, Chief Executive Officer of ElectriCities of North Carolina and Vice Chairman of the Member Representatives Committee of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), addressed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) during its reliability technical conference panel entitled “Bulk-Power System Reliability and Security: Current State, Challenges, and Initiatives.” Jones spoke on behalf of the American Public Power Association (APPA), the Large Public Power Council (LPPC), and the Transmission Access Policy Study Group (TAPS).
In his comments, Jones addressed reliability challenges facing the bulk electric system, focusing on supply chain concerns, the industry’s evolving resource mix and its impact on resource adequacy, and the criticality of industry/government coordination with NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC).
Pertaining to supply chain, Jones highlighted that FERC must assist industry in pressing for additional government assistance in influencing supplier cybersecurity practices. Specifically, FERC must push for the development of a third-party certification program—administered by the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—to secure vendor-supplied high and medium impact bulk electric system cyber components. FERC and NERC can play a role in convening vendors to develop the program.
“Vendors must take supply chain security on as a fundamental responsibility. If that’s to happen, the electric industry, the Commission, and governmental partners at DOE and DHS must bring the vendors to the table to discuss certification criteria and a consensus-based approach to participation,” said Jones.
Jones also pointed out that the U.S.’s rapidly evolving resource mix presents challenges to resource adequacy and grid reliability. The challenge is attributable to the rapid shift away from centralized generation to non-synchronous resources, including renewables, battery storage and other technologies. As this shift accelerates, industry and regulators must keep a close eye on resource adequacy and coordinate on flexible ramping and load-following resources, along with energy-assured generation. Jones stressed that while public power utilities continue to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions FERC must work concurrently to monitor and maintain grid reliability.
“Keeping the lights on during a dramatic change in the nation’s resource mix may be the single most important challenge of the mid-21st century for utility managers and state and federal regulators,” he said. “That will be a regional challenge, and we must empower utilities and state and local regulators to address it without federally imposed one-size-fits-all ‘solutions’ or mandates.”
Finally, Jones made the case for greater coordination between NERC’s E-ISAC and government partners in order to maximize the E-ISAC’s effectiveness and—as a result—the security of the bulk electric system.