Grid 20/20 Panel Spotlights Markets, Ops

How markets and operations can benefit resilience and vice versa was the theme of the third panel at the PJM Grid 20/20: Focus on Security & Resilience Tuesday in Baltimore.

Chantal Hendrzak, PJM executive director – Market Evolution, led the panel and discussed resilience across industries, within operations, and the role of the wholesale markets in resilience.

Ralph LaRossa, president and chief operating officer – PSEG, relied on his experiences through the 2003 blackout and Hurricane Sandy in 2012, to frame his discussion of resilience.

“This is a tough time – for all of you, you get it.  We took a lot of things for granted [in 2003]. One tree (falling). What a difference.”

Since then, he said, PSEG has worked on building redundancy and resilience.

“Fast forward to Sandy,” he said. “We never thought we would be raising substations in New Jersey, but here we are.

“Gas is flourishing, we can’t build the pipelines fast enough. But we don’t want to burden the customers. Where is the balance? We need the balance.”

He added that utility crews’ recent experiences in hurricane restoration have brought more to the table.

“Our crews tell us the concrete poles are winners in Florida. And a lot of the system is underground. How do you do that in a cost-effective manner?”

For Richard Kruse, vice president of Enbridge, which owns natural gas pipelines, the 2017 Hurricane Harvey experience was personal.

“The fact that the lights stayed on when my house flooded meant a lot,” he said.

Kruse said it is important for the electric customers to realize what the gas pipeline can and cannot do.

The whole purpose, he said was to make sure the customer – whoever it is – appreciates the consequences of gas-electric coordination.  He said, in terms of resilience, pipelines don’t have to be 100 percent redundant. Enbridge has been trying to get in front of this issue for years while still maintaining flexibility.  But the country needs to address the critical infrastructure shortage.

John Norden, director – Operations, ISO New England, discussed his three buckets of resilience: blue, grey and black skies. Blue and grey sky are scenarios we are prepared for.  Black sky events, we have more work to do, he said.

He is concerned, for example, that the grid must be ready to handle electromagnetic pulses and solar magnetic pulses.

“Are we ready for these? Are we ready to handle those kinds of things?” he asked. “Unlike the NERC standards and FERC standards, we really don’t have standards to mandate. There has to be the will to do this.

“What happens when there is no physical infrastructure left? Not just in Florida or Texas but across an interconnection. How do we handle? More work needs to be done – we need a lot of help from regulators and the government.”

Stefanie Brand, New Jersey Rate Counsel, said that her office is building on what it learned in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. Communication, she said, is a key to relieving customer anxiety.

“They want to at least understand,” she said. “I think, once they know the [restoration] process and see crews, it becomes, ‘They just haven’t gotten to me yet.’ “

She said good communication – open and transparent – helps customers understand the priority order to recovery. When customers think it is haphazard, it leads to anxiety.

“Be up front,” she said, “What you are doing, where you are doing it. People do understand that it takes a lot of effort.”

In closing the conference, Craig Glazer, PJM vice president – Federal Government Policy, said that PJM will continue forward to resilience.

“We are going to come back to stakeholders with a road map of key initiatives,” he said, “but, we are only as a good as the information we get, the reaction we get.

“We won’t want to do what you don’t want. Tell us what we missed, tell us what you need.”