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Grid Resiliency

Note from the editor

Increasing risks and impacts from hurricanes, wildfires and other extreme weather events have spurred billions in investments across the U.S. to enhance grid resiliency.

But as the criticism leveled by New York and Connecticut officials regarding the response by Northeast utilities to Hurricane Isaias showed, much work remains to be done.

COVID-19 has complicated matters, but utilities and grid operators have adapted. At the same time, they're facing increasing cyber threats, with attacks over the past year showing weaknesses in the grid, but also providing critical lessons.

From increased deployment of microgrids and distributed energy resources to undergrounding power lines and systematic software upgrades, a variety of measures are being deployed to address threats.

These and other grid resiliency developments are explored in-depth in the stories below.

Larry Pearl Senior Editor

Power experts cite gas constraints as main cause of ERCOT outages, but system planning questions remain

"The fact that this was not wind's fault is not an argument that the wind system as we currently have it would have done better if it were a bigger part of the grid."

Texas must increase ties to the national grid and DER to avoid another power catastrophe, analysts say

Planning for inter-regional transmission and distributed resources could do what ERCOT’s competitive, energy-only market didn’t – keep the heat and lights on, energy advisors say.

State of the Electric Utility 2021: Utilities' cybersecurity approach shows cause for concern, experts say

Almost all utilities are training employees on safe email use. That's the bare minimum they can do, say security experts.

2021 Outlook: The DER boom continues, driving a 'reimagining' of the distribution system

As new customer-owned resources grow, the old way of delivering them will evolve to make load more flexible.

Utilities face growing ransomware threat as hackers improve strategy, execution

The energy industry faces an increasing threat from financially-motivated hackers. Experts say more companies are paying, and ransoms are rising.

Why capital markets are continuing to finance utilities facing rising flood and other climate change impacts

In a sample of 18 utility disclosures on climate risks analyzed by Utility Dive, 13 stated flooding and heavy storms were a short-to-mid term threat.

Wildfires pushed PG&E into bankruptcy. Should other utilities be worried?

Catastrophic wildfires, which can lead to billions of dollars in damages, present a unique financial risk that the utility sector will want to get ahead of, experts say.

As extreme weather spurs billions in utility resilience spending, regulators struggle to value investments

A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows the value of resilience depends on too many factors to easily quantify and moves regulators back to human judgment.

ConEd, Eversource blasted by New York, Connecticut officials after 'wholly inadequate' storm response

Florida approves utility storm protection plans; analysts advocate measures beyond undergrounding

System hardening can help keep the lights on during a storm, but experts warn this addresses only the symptoms of a fragile grid.

Key developments in grid resiliency

As with many things these days, COVID-19 has complicated matters, but utilities and grid operators have managed to adapt. However, the Texas weather crisis of the past week has put the grid in the national spotlight, providing critical lessons.

included in this trendline
  • Microgrid of the future emerges in Washington as Avista preps transactive DER project
  • Taking Charge: How California's first CCA confronts wildfire risk and energy equity amid COVID-19
  • First cyberattack on solar, wind assets revealed widespread grid weaknesses, analysts say
Our Trendlines go deep on the biggest trends. These special reports, produced by our team of award-winning journalists, help business leaders understand how their industries are changing.
Davide Savenije Editor-in-Chief at Industry Dive.