The holidays are over, 2017 is history and a new year is now in front of us. At this time of year, most people reflect on the past year and a few revel in their accomplishments. Many more, however, revel in anticipation of the coming year and its possibilities.
We at POWERGRID International also reflected on the past year and although we didn’t revel in our accomplishments, we were happy with most of the content and stories we published in 2017. During our look back, we identified some of the biggest industry stories of last year. These stories covered inroads made by energy storage and microgrids, the end of “the war on coal,” the future of solar energy and net metering, the loss of thousands of power generation jobs and more. You can see and read about all 10 of our top picks by visiting our website and searching for “Storms, Trump and Microgrids: The Top 10 POWERGRID Stories of 2017” by Senior Editor Rod Walton.
Perhaps the biggest story of 2017 centered on Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which did billions of dollars’ worth of damage to Caribbean islands and territories, as well as some major U.S. metropolitan areas. Just like Superstorm Sandy in 2012, these hurricanes wreaked havoc on the electricity infrastructure, revealing its weaknesses and need for improvement.
Since Superstorm Sandy, utilities, as well as regulators, politicians and customer advocate groups have focused on making the grid more resilient, or in other words, better able to operate under extreme conditions and recover more quickly when outages do occur. Many utilities have put in place innovative technologies, systems and processes to help them better respond to extreme weather events and other outside intrusions. Mother Nature reminded us once again in 2017, however, that there is more work to be done. The road to creating a grid that is resilient enough to withstand the many outside forces that can attack is difficult to navigate and tiresomely long.
This issue features two stories about hurricane recovery, beginning on page 18. While the utilities hit hard by the storms still have much work ahead of them to fully repair their infrastructure, you’ll learn that modern technology-including energy storage, better grid protection schemes, distribution automation and more robust communication equipment and channels-improved storm response and recovery, as well utilities’ communications with their customers. This is good news.
More potentially good news is coming from Capitol Hill. President Trump announced recently that his next big push will be to improve the nation’s infrastructure by introducing an “infrastructure proposal” sometime this month. While the proposal will cover all the nation’s infrastructure, much of the talk out of Washington indicates that electricity infrastructure, especially the grid, will be a top priority in the president’s agenda. If President Trump can get the buy-in of Congress, federal money could soon be available to help grid owners and operators improve and modernize transmission and distribution infrastructure.
We can hope that 2017 was an anomaly when it comes to destructive and devastating weather events and that 2018 will be a year of quiet and calm. We shouldn’t, however, count on it. Mother Nature, as well as other forces like cyberterrorism, are sure to threaten our infrastructure. Executives and engineers of utilities and solutions providers know this and will continue to invest in technologies and processes to improve grid resiliency.
We at POWERGRID International will continue to keep you informed about those technologies and processes not only through our printed pages, but through our website and our annual show DistribuTECH, which occurs this month in San Antonio. Let us know what topics interest you most and we’ll do our best to cover them.
Happy New Year! I wish you the best in 2018. Thanks for reading and I hope to see you at DistribuTECH 2018.