Voices for grid reliability

Electric grid reliability risks are increasing with each passing year. Recently, many of the nation’s grid operators and regulators have begun speaking out about their concerns.


Ben Fladhammer


February 21, 2024

As the nation’s electric grid faces escalating reliability risks, energy leaders are making their voices heard.

Regulators, grid operators, utilities and others are continuing to sound the alarm on the United States transitioning too quickly toward intermittent resources without retaining the stability provided by baseload coal, nuclear and natural gas power plants. As more dependable power plants are retired without adequate replacement, the margin for error is becoming razor thin – a dire situation that has the potential to lead to blackouts.

As the United States grapples with the challenges to the reliability of its electric grid, the need for proactive and decisive action is more apparent than ever. Failure to address these challenges could have far-reaching consequences, impacting not only the nation’s energy landscape but also its economic stability and overall security.

The entities responsible for grid reliability must join together to find collaborative solutions to these issues and work toward a set of reasonable and achievable
goals for the energy transition. Here’s what some of the major entities responsible for reliability are saying.

Midwest Reliability Organization (MRO)

What they’re saying: 
“Headlining the regional risk is uncertain energy availability, which was elevated from a high risk in 2023 to an extreme risk in 2024. This is the first time in the assessment’s history that a risk has risen to an extreme priority. A reliable bulk power system requires generating resources to produce the necessary amount of energy to manage electricity demand at any given time. The energy mix is rapidly transforming to include more energy-limited resources that have uninsured fuel supplies, challenging the ability to provide power on demand.”

— Mark Tiemeier, MRO Principal Technical Advisor, 2024 MRO Regional Risk Assessment Report

Minnkota Power Cooperative

What they’re saying:
“People use the phrase ‘keeping the lights on,’ but it’s so much more than that. It’s keeping families warm in the winter, helping American businesses stay competitive, ensuring hospitals and essential resources are available at all times and protecting our national security. These are things that depend on a reliable electric grid and we should take that seriously.”

— Mac McLennan, Minnkota president and CEO, October 9, 2023, article

North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC)

What they’re saying:
"The electric power industry continues to face challenges in the future. A rapidly changing resource mix, a threat landscape, extreme weather, inverter-based resources. But really focusing in on reliability, managing the pace of a rapidly changing resource mix, which includes not only making sure you don’t retire prematurely, but also that we’re building enough resources and making sure they’re dispatchable really continues to be our greatest reliability risk in the future.”

— John Moura, NERC Director of Reliability Assessment and Performance Analysis, Fox interview on Dec. 13, 2023

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

What they’re saying:
“We are heading for potentially very dire consequences, potentially catastrophic consequences in the United States in terms of the reliability of our grid.”

— Mark Christie, FERC commissioner, at a House Energy and Commerce Committee, Energy Subcommittee hearing on June 13, 2023

Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (MNPUC)

What they’re saying:
“A major reliability event will set us backwards. The public will absolutely revolt.”

— Joe Sullivan, vice chairman of MNPUC, at a conference hosted by the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, on Oct. 9, 2023 (courtesy MinnPost)

North Dakota Public Service Commission (NDPSC)

What they’re saying:
“We’re talking about these reliability challenges in a nation that is so blessed with an abundant array of affordable, reliable energy resources like America is, it really doesn’t seem plausible that we should ever fall short. Yes, we have storms. Yes, there are power outages. That’s going to happen. But not having enough? That should never happen. Ever.”

— Julie Fedorchak, NDPSC commissioner, at National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ annual meeting in November 2023

Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO)

What they’re saying:
“The recent acceleration in the pace of fleet change is increasing risks to system reliability for MISO. Dispatchable generators that we need to ensure reliability are being removed from the system before new resources with the needed reliability attributes are being brought online.”

— Todd Ramey, MISO senior vice president of markets and digital strategy, at a House Subcommittee on Energy, Climate and Grid Security hearing on Sept. 28, 2023


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