- Grid Assurance, the industry-led initiative to stockpile long-lead-time transmission equipment, has its first six subscribers lined up and expects to begin taking equipment orders later this year, according to a press release.
- The companies involved say there is an "urgent need" to increase inventory of critical transmission equipment in case of a catastrophic grid event, such as a successful physical or cyber attack. Some grid equipment can take a year to 18 months to procure.
- The U.S. Department of Energy released its Strategic Transformer Reserve Report last year, recommending an industry-led approach. In total the companies involved represent 31 transmission-owning affiliates.
Utilities are looking at different ways to confront the growing threat of physical and cyber attacks. This service is likely to appeal to larger transmission owners with more large capacity equipment. Grid Assurance says its services are intended to "complement existing sparing programs" at individual energy companies.
The companies backing Grid Assurance have transmission facilities in more than two dozen states. The effort will be led by Kansas City Power & Light's Michael Deggendorf, who is serving as Grid Assurance's first CEO.
"Increasing the security and resilience of the U.S. bulk power grid is a must for our country. Having an adequate supply of on-hand, on-shore access to long-lead-time equipment is the biggest challenge to utilities when recovering from catastrophic events," Deggendorf said in a statement.
The companies involved are: American Electric Power; Berkshire Hathaway Energy, with its MidAmerican Energy, and NV Energy subsidiaries; Eversource; FirstEnergy; KCP&L; and National Grid.
Grid Assurance announced today that those companies "pending any needed regulatory approval, are in the initial group of subscribers."
The group will maintain an inventory of critical long-lead-time spare transformers, circuit breakers and related transmission equipment, and will also store the equipment in "strategic locations; and offer preplanned transportation and logistics support for delivery."
Grid Assurance is speaking with "a majority of utilities around the country" to sign on more companies, according to Kristine Cooper, Grid Assurance spokesperson. She said Grid Assurance will be able to leverage the purchase of the expensive equipment with manufacturers, to offer utilities a guarantee that the type of transformer that is compatible with their system will be available in case of emergency.
"We feel it's the most secure most complete option at this point," Cooper told Utility Dive.
Deliveries of stockpiled grid equipment are expected to begin by mid-2019.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Deggendorf's position at KCP&L. He currently doesn't have a title with the company.