Group of big grid managers calls attention to regional changes

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Restructuring Today November 12, 2013

Group of big grid managers calls attention to regional changes

The 16 largest power-grid operators in the world called for more of a focus on reliability as the industry sees large changes in the resource mix and with the integration of information technology. The GO15 group members include MISO and PJM whose CEO Terry Boston heads the joint group.

“All of the world’s grids share a similar problem,” Boston said in prepared remarks yesterday. “We all face reliability and operational challenges in a rapidly changing industry.

“The specifics of those challenges may differ from nation to nation, such as how best to connect renewable generation that is often far from population centers, the retirement of conventional power plants and the rapid growth of electricity use in emerging economies.”

The group issued a declaration after a recent meeting in New York calling for greater focus on reliability.

The group includes members in emerging economies such as China where the biggest need of the grid is to keep expanding supplies. Other areas such as the US and Western Europe have to update aging infrastructure while incorporating more variable supplies and cutting carbon emissions.

Energy consumers are more responsive to higher power prices, particularly at a time of declining or steady incomes and emerging technologies that allow greater control over consumption, the group said.

To accommodate all the changes happening, power grid operators have to support safety and reliability with economically efficient and sustainable investments. That requires a sustainable regulatory framework, which supports economically sensible investment and provides incentives to meet the challenges.

Reliability can come in the form of traditional power lines, which need to have the complex process of getting rights-of-way and construction permits trimmed as much as possible.

The group also called for more investment in monitoring equipment so operators can track what is happening on the grid as more variable generation and changes in use patterns occur. The monitoring equipment will also help deal with changes in competitive power markets, it added.

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