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EPRI CEO: After Texas, electric grid planning must address climate risk

Dr. Arshad Mansoor Photo courtesy LinkedIn

In the wake of the unusual snowstorms that led to massive power outages across the state of Texas, The Electric Power Research Institute, Inc. President and CEO Dr. Arshad Mansoor said the industry must change the way it assesses the reliability of our system.

EPRI conducts research and development relating to the generation, delivery and use of electricity for the benefit of the public. An independent, nonprofit organization, EPRI brings together its scientists and engineers as well as experts from academia and industry to help address challenges in electricity, including reliability, efficiency, affordability, health, safety and the environment.

“My heart goes out to the EPRI employees and millions of Texas residents and businesses struggling to keep their light, heat and water on during this massive winter storm, during a global pandemic,” said Dr. Mansoor. “So much of our economy already rests on the electric sector, but as more of our economy becomes reliant on electricity, and our grid continues to integrate more low-carbon renewable resources, we must change the way we assess the reliability of our system.

“Right now, men and women from numerous utilities are working tirelessly to restore service throughout Texas and the Southwest. I applaud their dedication in responding efficiently and generously to increased weather events, which we no longer call an anomaly. But the realities of climate change are prompting some grid operators to look at system planning and generators in a new way, to evaluate plant extreme weather readiness.

“EPRI recently released a technical report about the impacts of extreme events on the grid. EPRI scientists and engineers concluded that grid operator planning processes, including resource adequacy planning, typically don’t consider extreme climate scenarios that a resilient grid must be able to handle going forward. Traditional planning processes do not represent how resources actually perform under extreme conditions.

“Also, our existing grid supply and delivery assets must be hardened for climate change scenarios regardless of generation—renewables and fossil fuels. Extreme weather events have adversely impacted all generation types, some more than others, relative to the output that was expected in the ERCOT resource adequacy planning. Finally, broader interconnection with other systems through new transmission will increase access to diverse resources and fuel supplies and is a critical piece of a resilient grid that accommodates more low-carbon resources.”

EPRI members represent 90% of the electricity generated and delivered in the United States with international participation extending to 40 countries. EPRI’s principal offices and laboratories are located in Palo Alto, Calif.; Charlotte, N.C.; Knoxville, Tenn.; Dallas, Texas; Lenox, Mass.; and Washington, D.C.