#SubEnergy Examines Grid Reliability and Resiliency in its Sixth ‘Powering America’ Hearing – Energy and Commerce Committee

WASHINGTON, DC – The Energy Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), today held a hearing[1] entitled, “Part II: Powering America: Defining Reliability in a Transforming Electricity Industry.” Today’s hearing was the second portion of #SubEnergy[2]’s two part review of electric reliability and grid resiliency, and marked the sixth hearing as part of the committee’s ‘Powering America[3]’ series. Part one of the hearing[4] was held on September 14, 2017. Members of the subcommittee heard from a diverse panel of witnesses from all areas of the electricity sector on electric reliability and grid resiliency.

Marty Durbin, Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer at the American Petroleum Institute, spoke to the importance of natural gas in terms of grid reliability, commenting[5], “Collectively, the environmental advantages, reliability, and affordability of natural gas generation are unmatched by any other form of power generation. The natural gas industry stands ready to work with all stakeholders to ensure that our nation’s electric grid is reliable, safe, and resilient.”

Paul Bailey, President and CEO of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, commented[6] on the importance of the electric grid, “A reliable and resilient electric grid is essential for public health, public safety, a sound economy, and national security. It is obvious the nation’s electric grid is undergoing profound changes that could challenge grid reliability and resilience.”

Maria G. Korsnick, President and CEO of the Nuclear Energy Institute, talked about nuclear power and its role in generating electricity nationwide, commenting[7], “Nuclear energy is the largest source of emissions-free electricity in the United States. Currently, 99 reactors in 30 states produce nearly 20 percent of our nation’s electricity and approximately 60 percent of our carbon-free electricity.”

Witnesses listen as members ask questions during today’s #SubEnergy hearing

Thomas Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, discussed the resiliency of wind power generation during natural disasters, stating[8], “Wind’s resilience was demonstrated during the 2014 Polar Vortex event and a similar cold snap in Texas in 2011, when high wind output helped keep the lights on while many coal, nuclear and natural gas plants went offline.”

Steve Wright, General Manager of Chelan County Public Utility District No. 1, discussed hydropower and its pivotal role in reliability, stating[9], “Hydropower is the premiere electric generating resource. It is low-cost, emission-free, and, unlike any other generating resource, can provide all components of reliability, including: energy, peak capacity, voltage support, regulation, spinning and non-spinning reserves, storage, black start capability, and inertia.”

Christopher Mansour, Vice President of Federal Affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, spoke to the role solar power plays in electricity generation, stating[10], “Solar can contribute substantially to a clean, sustainable domestic energy supply to power growth and prosperity for many decades to come. Stable, long-term policies, including tax trade, and energy policies are the keystones to realizing solar’s ability to deliver reliable, low-cost power to the nation.”

Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association, offered four suggestions to improve grid resiliency and reliability, commenting[11], “Policies must keep pace with technology and market advances by (1) removing barriers to energy storage participation in markets; (2) designing markets to improve price signals for flexibility and resilience; (3) incorporating the resilience value of distributed energy resources, including storage; and (4) expanding convention definitions of reliability to capture flexibility and resilience.”

During last week’s hearing[12], full committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) asked witnesses if wholesale power markets were working to respond to changes in consumer behavior driven by new technologies and other lower cost-generation options. The overwhelming response was to embrace competitive markets and ensure the markets do not have a technology bias. Building off the questioning from last week, Chairman Walden asked today’s panel, “is reliability the only attribute not getting properly valued in these markets? And hypothetically…if we were able to design the wholesale electricity markets fresh, from a blank sheet of paper, what would you recommend?” To watch the witnesses responses, click HERE[13].

For more information on today’s hearing including a background memo, witness testimony, and an archived webcast, click HERE[14].

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