The US electric grid is in transition. It is continuing a shift from fossil fuel-based systems of energy production to renewable energy sources and energy storage resources. Meanwhile, growth in electricity demand is starting to accelerate, and grid reliability challenges are on the rise, prompting questions about the nature and pace of reforms needed to ensure reliability during the transition.
In a new report prepared for the Center for Applied Environmental Law and Policy, electricity experts from The Brattle Group investigate these questions and explain how industry changes and reform efforts impact different areas of reliability. The authors explore the drivers of grid transition and offer a primer on reliability – including how reliability needs are evolving – and the various reforms being pursued to ensure a reliable future grid.
Conclusions from the report include:
- The grid transition is driven by the combined effects of the rapidly declining cost of clean energy technologies, customer preferences, state and federal clean energy policies, and EPA regulations, together with other factors
- The transition offers both challenges and abundant solutions to address challenges, shifting the focus of grid reliability management practices
- A comprehensive suite of reliability reforms is needed to address transition challenges, regardless of EPA regulations
- Examples of such reliability reforms are in place or underway at various grid operators; acceleration of these reforms should be a priority to ensure reliability during the transition
- For specific cases in which EPA regulations are a major driver of transition-related challenges and reliability reforms do not keep pace, regulatory flexibility can be utilized to address reliability needs while meeting EPA regulations
The full report, “Bulk System Reliability for Tomorrow’s Grid,” and a briefing summary are available below.