IRC Issues Report on Impact of Emerging Technologies

The affiliation of independent electric grid operators today published a report that examines the impact of emerging technologies on the North American power grid.

The report concludes that the grid’s future depends on effectively adding renewables to the grid, the accuracy and availability of data from “behind-the-meter” resources and coordinating these distributed energy resources at the grid operator level to preserve reliability.

PJM is a member of the group, the ISO/RTO Council, which represents nine non-profit independent system operators and regional transmission organizations in the United States and Canada. IRC members serve two-thirds of electricity consumers in the United States and more than half in Canada.

The report, “Emerging Technologies: How ISOs and RTOs can create a more nimble, robust electricity system,” theorizes that a reliable and economically efficient power grid depends on a number of factors. These include a cohesive, innovative integration of renewables; greater situational awareness among grid operators, enabled by access to dependable data, and operators’ ability to control an electricity system that is becoming increasingly decentralized through the proliferation of distributed energy resources.

PJM has also published a brochure on its emerging technologies partnerships.

The report is the result of more than a year’s worth of research and collaboration. It is notable that its findings and implications represent consensus among all nine organizations.

The IRC’s Operations Committee formed a task force in summer 2015 to examine the deployment of particular emerging technologies across the regions served by IRC members. The task force sought to identify where technological deployment can intersect with operational and policy considerations.

In the report, the IRC defines a number of positions regarding policies, strategic approaches, worthy goals and critical success factors its members believe will either enable or hinder them in the near future.

While it does not favor specific technologies, the IRC does recommend approaches that avoid too-early technological “lock-in” and allow grid operators to remain nimble in their assessment of new technologies.

The IRC also published a supplemental summary.