Perry’s advisory panel to focus on grid resilience

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, July 9, 2018

Resilience will be the watchword for the meeting of the Department of Energy’s Electricity Advisory Committee (EAC), said Michael Heyeck, who chairs the panel.

The meeting in Arlington, Va., will kick off with a presentation by Bruce Walker, DOE’s assistant secretary for electricity. He has been on point for the department in its focus on maintaining and enhancing the resilience of the nation’s transmission system.

Walker also has been leading with the argument that DOE, as a national security agency, is justified in looking beyond financial costs when considering whether and how to preserve certain nuclear and coal-fired power plants deemed critical to keeping the lights on (Energywire, May 11).

Walker will offer an update on the Office of Electricity’s initiatives on grid modernization, integration of energy storage and risks to the grid posed by cyberattacks and natural disasters.

The 32-member electricity policy panel will be assisting DOE with development of the North American grid resilience model, an effort that is being led by researchers at a few of DOE’s national laboratories, Heyeck said in an interview.

Following Walker will be a panel on the development of that model led by Ali Ghassemian, program manager for DOE’s Advanced Modeling Grid Research Program.

Rounding out the day will be a presentation on DOE’s advanced grid research and development portfolio.

The EAC meeting tomorrow will center around the relationship between frequency response and grid resilience.

Operators of the U.S. grid must maintain a constant balance between load and generation. Disturbances, particularly trips of large generating plants, cause an imbalance that must be corrected by frequency response.

“In the old days,” Heyeck explained, generation was not as intermittent as it is now in some parts of the nation. Power plant units were constantly spinning, providing the inertia needed to maintain grid frequency.

But today, “Let’s say you have a power plant trip offline or load develop very quickly or distributed energy resources come on or off pretty quickly,” then grid operators need to be able to adjust,” he said. With fewer spinning assets because of the growth in distributed energy resources, wind and solar, “those don’t have as much inertia on the frequency of the system,” he said.

“If 5,000 MW drops off the system, we have to make sure there’s inertia in the system that allows us to ride through,” Heyeck said.

“There are technical solutions to these issues, certainly,” Heyeck said, to what he terms the “fuel transformation of the United States.”

Heyeck, 63, is a consultant who formerly was an executive with American Electric Power. He was picked by Energy Secretary Rick Perry last September to chair the group.

He retired from AEP in 2013 after 37 years; his last position was senior vice president of transmission.

Heyeck previously served on the Electricity Advisory Committee from 2008 to 2014 and was chairman of its Power Delivery Subcommittee.