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Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation's Electricity System (2017)

Chapter: Appendix A: Statement of Task

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation's Electricity System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24836.


A Statement of Task

An ad hoc National Research Council (NRC) committee will address technical, policy and institutional factors that might affect how modern technology can be implemented in the evolution of electric transmission and distribution (T&D) in the United States, and recommend strategies and priorities for how the nation can move to a more reliable and resilient T&D system. The committee will consider how existing and emerging technological options, including greater reliance on distributed power generation, could impact the reliability, robustness, and the ability to recover from disruptions to the electrical T&D system or systems. The study will identify barriers to implementing technology pathways for improving T&D reliability, key priorities and opportunities including, where necessary, those for research, development and demonstration (RD&D), the federal role, and strategies and actions that could lead to a more reliable and resilient T&D system. As part of this study the committee may do the following:

  1. Review recent studies and analysis of the current and projected status of the nation’s electric T&D system including any that identify significant technological concerns over vulnerability, reliability, and resilience;
  2. Assess factors affecting future requirements and trends for the nation’s T&D infrastructure including such issues as the need for new capacity, replacement needs, siting issues, vulnerability to external threats and the need for security, whether physical or cyber, the alignment of costs and benefits, the effects of interconnectedness among regional networks, and others identified by the committee;
  3. Evaluate the role existing and emerging technological options, especially of renewable and distributed generation technologies, can play in creating or addressing concerns identified by the committee and that can lead to enhanced reliability and resilience;
  4. Consider how regional differences both in terms of the physical setting and the utility structure may impact solutions to improving resilience;
  5. Review federal, state, industry, and academic R&D programs, as well as any demonstration and/or deployment efforts, focused on technologies for the T&D system that are aimed at improving its capacity, reliability, resilience, flexibility, and any other attributes aimed at enhancing the robustness of the nation’s electric power T&D system;
  6. Identify non-technological barriers (including those related to regulatory, ownership, and financial issues) to implementation of new and/or expanded technology to improve the stability, reliability, and resilience of electric T&D;
  7. Suggest strategies, key opportunities and priorities, and actions for implementation of the identified technology pathways for the T&D system, which could include RD&D, policies, incentives, standards, and others the committee finds are necessary; and
  8. Address the federal role, especially of DOE, in addressing the technical, policy, and institutional issues for a transformation of the T&D system to one with increased robustness and resilience.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix A: Statement of Task." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2017. Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation's Electricity System. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/24836.
Page 143
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Americans’ safety, productivity, comfort, and convenience depend on the reliable supply of electric power. The electric power system is a complex “cyber-physical” system composed of a network of millions of components spread out across the continent. These components are owned, operated, and regulated by thousands of different entities. Power system operators work hard to assure safe and reliable service, but large outages occasionally happen. Given the nature of the system, there is simply no way that outages can be completely avoided, no matter how much time and money is devoted to such an effort. The system’s reliability and resilience can be improved but never made perfect. Thus, system owners, operators, and regulators must prioritize their investments based on potential benefits.

Enhancing the Resilience of the Nation’s Electricity System focuses on identifying, developing, and implementing strategies to increase the power system’s resilience in the face of events that can cause large-area, long-duration outages: blackouts that extend over multiple service areas and last several days or longer. Resilience is not just about lessening the likelihood that these outages will occur. It is also about limiting the scope and impact of outages when they do occur, restoring power rapidly afterwards, and learning from these experiences to better deal with events in the future.

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