Question: What is one action that can—and should— be taken immediately to strengthen the North American power grid?

Answer:

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John B. Howe, vice president, electric industry affairs, American Superconductor
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“Reactive power imbalances have emerged as a major culprit in declining grid reliability: VARs simply don’t travel well. Building more generators in a depressed market won’t solve (and may compound) reliability problems. Strategic placement of dynamic reactive power support technologies at key nodes on the grid can immediately improve system reliability and transfer capability. These ‘shock absorbers’ can be quickly installed inside existing substations, without protracted siting procedures.

“Unquestionably, more long lines are needed over time–but immediate adoption of dynamic VAR support technology is the fastest, least-cost, most practical way to refortify the overstressed grid.”

Answer:

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Don Mundy, vice president, power delivery, Black & Veatch
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“Transmission capacity investment has not kept pace with generation development for at least a decade, and reliance on this system for the majority of new generation has created increasing amounts of congestion and has strained reliability. While smaller distributed generation (DG) units are useful in certain applications, the T&D grid can be benefited most by utilizing vacant spaces in or near existing substations to install permanent or temporary DG units in the 10 to 15 MW size to fit within the local distribution system and avoid increasing demand on the transmission grid. These units can be operated as islands, help meet load growth, add voltage support and provide overall reliability improvement.”

Answer:

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Robert L. Huber, chairman, Distribution Vision 2010
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“The single action I recommend is to pass federal legislation to create six to 10 zonal independent system operating territories (ZISOT) based on geographical areas that would match demand with generation within reasonable tolerance and having adequate infrastructure to distribute wholesale power within respective zones. All owners of generation and transmission located within a zone would be required ZISOT members.

“The responsibility of a zonal independent system operator is to establish rules and responsibilities within their zone consistent with the intended legislation framework, with authority to restrict transactions. Their responsibility would include real-time system analysis and continuous risk analysis evaluation with an overall responsibility of reducing the probability of inter-zonal and intra-zonal cascading power failures.” (Huber’s remarks may not necessarily represent the position of all the DV2010 member utilities.)


Elliot Roseman,(ERoseman@icfconsulting.com), principal consultant, ICF Consulting
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“The federal government should provide funds to reinforce or build major transmission lines, just as they took the lead on the federal highway system. Power is more important. Without power, we have no economic activity. Working with states, the federal government should select high-voltage, highly congested lines where reliability is at stake. States should jointly consider how to site the lines, evaluate impacts, and get the lines built on a specific schedule. Given the interdependence of the grid, and the regional reliability and cost impacts of transmission, the federal government and all taxpayers are in the best position to do so.”

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