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Five Measures That Can Improve The Efficiency And Resilience of Our Grid

Much has been said about our electric grid’s vulnerabilities and security threats. The question is – what can we do about it?

Experts are of the opinion that improving the grid’s resilience and infrastructure is not something that can be left to the utilities alone. It is an absolutely massive task, which requires large amounts of funds, manpower, and political will.

The Question of Political Will

Now, political will is something that was lacking during the previous administration, as a result of which the condition of our energy infrastructure worsened considerably. The current administration, fortunately, is focused on improving and securing our energy infrastructure. So, the lack of political will is no longer a factor that could impede our energy infrastructure development.

We have someone in office now who actually cares about this country and does want to satisfy rich, white, out of touch elitists.

Given below is a list of five measures that could improve our grid’s performance, efficiency, and resilience.

1. Digitization – Need of the Hour

A massive campaign should be launched to digitize our grid to the extent possible. Experts say that digitization can improve efficiency at every single step – energy production, transmission, distribution, and consumption. It will allow utilities to predict, preempt, and respond to power shortages, blackouts, and other such problems in a much better and faster manner.

This is an undertaking, as mentioned above, that requires an enormous amount of resources. So, there needs to be a concerted and cohesive collaboration between private and public players, so that their combined resources could be used judiciously for improving our grid. A public-private partnership like this could maximize the benefits of association and minimize the costs and risks involved to a great extent.

2. Utility Regulation and Cost Recovery

The government needs to address the issue of utility regulation and cost recovery. During the eight years of the ‘green-friendly’, job killing, and destructive Obama administration, our fossil fuel industry suffered massive setbacks due to draconian regulations. Fossil fuel industry is the backbone of our grid, as coal and natural gas account for nearly 80% of energy production.

On top of this, the Obama administration was really not that green. Superfund sites, led, uranium, and so on – the Obama team failed on many fronts.

The Trump administration’s proposal to remunerate power plants that provide baseload power and maintain fuel reserves is certainly a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done to address the issues that our power plants across the country face.

3. Building a Workforce

We need to develop a highly skilled and competent workforce that can plan and implement the task of grid digitization.

4. Cybersecurity

We need to strengthen federal as well as industry leaders who are interested and invested cybersecurity. For years, our grid has remained the biggest target of cyber attacks and very little has been done to safeguard it against them. So, it is about time we built a team to prepare and implement a series of security measures to protect our grid against any unwanted intrusions and attacks.

5. R&D Grants

The federal government needs to increase the grants for research and development and incentivize private sector players who are working on grid digitization. We cannot expect private sector to invest in grid security and development if the government is not willing to reward them for this.

On the whole, the solution to our grid’s problems lies in digitization and cybersecurity. It is an expensive undertaking for sure. But our grid is directly connected to the lives of millions of Americans. So, no cost is too high to pay for its security and resilience.

Discussions

Ben let me start as a fellow veteran by simply saying: thanks for your service and certainly for your commentary. However, I sensed that there was a strong flavor of political Kool Aid pertaining to your statement concerning political will. Since I truly believe that the previous administration  made exponential strides in alleviating environmental concerns through investments in renewable energy, I must respectfully disagreee that they had no political will or mandate to advance the cause of energy sufficiency in America. Ultimately, having read all of your commentary, it seems that our only sticking point would be the increased governance of certain fossil fuels due to validated environmental issues. I don't want to get into a politically polarizing discussion as that will essentially go no where. However, I think you need to acknowledge that the compelling need to better manage certain fossil fuels is as critical as improving and enhancing our cybersecurity. Both phenomena pose an existential threat to the future of our energy industry and must be taken very seriously. The issue of coal-burning cannot be routinely relegated to a business case hampered by regulations. Rather, we need to finally recognize what's best for energy production while concurrently considering what steps must be taken to protect our environment. The solution is a sweet spot that satisfies all concerns that affect us as energy-consuming Americans.

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