Podcast Ep. 18: Zach Smith on Reliability Risks from Extreme Weather, Transmission Constraints, and Electricity Economics
We’ve just released a new report, the Comprehensive Reliability Plan, which looks at the New York energy grid over the next 10 years and determines if there are any factors that could impact our ability to keep the lights on for all.
While the report declared there are no immediate risks, Vice President of System & Resource Planning Zach Smith says the future of the grid is not so simple. To safely and responsibly tackle climate change impacts to the power grid, one must consider multiple factors together in thinking about decarbonization and planning.
“We have a shifting resource mix of generation. We need to be mindful of how this big machine called the electric grid continues to operate,” Smith told Kevin Lanahan, Vice President of External Affairs and Corporate Communications, during an interview for our Power Trends Podcast.
One issue, Smith said, is that as new resources come onto the grid, such as wind or solar power, older, less efficient, “spinning mass” power plants will retire. The “spinning mass” aspect of fossil fuel-fired plants provides a reliable source of electricity that can offset the intermittent nature of solar and wind resources, which are limited due to weather and time of day. Losing oil and gas plants will require replacement by other energy resources that can offset these intermittent resources.
“We’re already seeing changes on the grid. That’s going to have a real impact: some of them positive, some of them negative,” Smith said. “We’re very concerned that if we experience a heat wave, a polar vortex, our projections show we could come up short.”
For more on the risks to the electric grid and what we’re doing to prepare for the changes to come, listen to the full podcast here.
For a summary of power grid reliability risks examined in the report, download the datasheet.