Eagle Eye Power Solutions

Did You Know | A Focus on the State of the North American Electrical Power Grid

This month’s “Did You Know” seems to have developed into a focus on the state of the North American electrical power grid. Did you know that there is a fine line between greenwash and hogwash? While renewable power sources are vital to the future of the power grid, we recognize the need to exercise caution when rolling it out at scale across our current infrastructure.

Did you know that the generation and distribution of electrical power in North America is controlled and regulated by the North American Electrical Reliability Corporation (NERC)?

The mission of NERC is to “ensure the reliability of the North American power system.” The drive towards achieving reliability has spawned two significant mandated standards: PRC-005 and TPL-001, which are discussed in various other Eagle Eye Powers Solutions documents. While these internal Reliability Standards are a step in the right direction, there are many outside forces that are threatening grid reliability. 

Did you know that a recent Utility Drive newsletter opinion piece highlighted some of these grid concerns best?

The article titled, “Pump the Brakes on Big Transmission,” describes how it appears that a huge wager is being made in the form of “The Big Transmission Fix.” This describes how those entities that seem to know very little about grid infrastructure are pushing utility-scale wind and solar power without realizing that the grid as it stands needs a massive overhaul. 

Did you know that in a recent Wall Street Journal article titled, “To You Greenies, Don’t Say We Didn’t Warn You” also weighs in on the subject of the vulnerability of the power grid?

It states the obvious, “Data centers – like manufacturing plants – require, reliable power year-round, which wind and solar don’t provide.” Which means that as former Energy Secretary, Ernest Moniz, predicted, “utilities will ultimately have to rely more on gas, coal and nuclear plants to support surging demand.” In other words, it’s likely to take much longer than just a few years to effectively build 100 gigawatts from new renewable power sources.

Do you live in California? Is that you I hear screaming?  Did you know that according to the latest figures from the Energy Information Administration, the state’s electricity prices, probably already the highest in the nation, increased by 11.9% last year?

Pundits claim that the rates are set to head further north at a rapid rate. The California Public Utilities Commission has just approved the addition of more than 25 gigawatts of renewables and 15 gigawatts of battery storage within the next eight years. This is estimated to cost about $50 billion, which is on top of the already planned $31 billion for the upgrade of the transmission grid. 

Did you know that the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) is the largest Regional Transmission Operator (MTO) in the USA?

MISO covers 15 states from Canada to the Gulf Coast. Last month it issued a report which includes a realistic view regarding the challenges it faces with the electric grid. It warns that “the transition that is underway to get a decarbonized end state is posing material, adverse challenges to electric reliability” (sic) and that “many dispatchable resources that provide critical reliability attributes are retiring prematurely due to environmental regulations and clean energy policies.” This is on top of similar red flag warnings from the NERC and The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). 

For what it’s worth, did you know what Mark Zuckerberg thinks?

He recently confirmed that “energy constraints have become the largest bottleneck to building AI data centers.” With these requiring huge investments, he goes on to say that “the question is not a matter of at what point it stops being worth it to put capital in. But I actually think that, before we run into that, we’re going to run into energy constraints.”

So, with electrification and electric vehicles being pushed and the looming power hungry AI data centers being planned, are we approaching the perfect storm? This author thinks so. Now is the time to invest in power alternatives and backup, maintain what you may already have, and test that it will work as planned when called to do so. Don’t get caught in the storm!

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