Power Grid Confidence!
by Chris Weiss, Executive Director, DC Environmental Network
The DC Environmental Network Invites All Metro-Based Environmentalists to a Brown-Bag Discussion:
Mark your calendars! On October 17th at Noon at the DC Environmental Network headquarters (1100 15th Street NW, 11th Floor), interested environmentalists and others will be holding part two of our discussion about what the Washington Metro Region might do to restore confidence in our power grid. RSVP Here!
On September 6th, the DC Environmental Network convened a discussion to engage the local environmental community to start to develop a consensus position on what might be done to restore confidence in the region’s power grid.
Video of our September 6th discussion:
- Jigar Shah, Jigar Shah Consulting; Founder, Sun Edison; Founding CEO & Current Boardmember, The Carbon War Room – Watch Video of Jigar!
- Robert Robinson, Organizer, TurnOffPepcoPayments.org – Watch Video of Robert!
- Watch Video of our Discussion Segment!
Some of what came out in our discussion included:
- Reliability is a necessary precondition for a utility’s delivery of electric service. Germany’s grid has outages at a rate of 21 minutes per year. Pepco’s reliability, ranked in the bottom quartile among all US municipalities, exposes rate payers to multiple outages annually, involving days, hours and minutes without power. The health hazards this creates are unacceptable and the economic cost to rate payers, personally, and to local governments and businesses is measured in the billions. Future grid reliability must be built around features that protect vulnerable populations and institutions from the impact of severe weather episodes.
- DC needs the Council to demand accountability for lack of grid reliability. The DC public has not simply lost confidence in Pepco’s ability to deliver electric service, there is widespread concern that some legislators and the regulators who hold the utilities accountable are “in Pepco’s pocket.”
- Why is DC’s grid unreliable? First and foremost, Pepco’s top management is not committed to assuring that everything they do help make for reliable electric service. Additionally, the current grid is nearing the end of its lifecycle. It cannot be patched-up to meet future demands, applications and environmental conditions. These problems cannot be addressed by a utility whose overarching priority remains the financial interests of its investors and top managers.
- So, what features should a reliable 21st century grid include?
- additional selective undergrounding is advisable, but because Pepco’s cost estimates exceed independent estimates by a factor of 8, this may be too unfeasible;
- it should address role of and 21st century needs for power in all aspects of everyday life; and,
- the capacity to handle the dynamic functions of local power generation, load management and electricity storage;
- “control” functions enabling it to cull data from the grid and act on it;
- these features should be interconnected and interact in ways that improve efficiency, reliability, cost and sustainability.
Design, construction and investment in a 21st century reliable grid should not be limited to utilities, ratepayers and local jurisdictions. In addition to helping spawn new businesses — e.g., EVs and EV charging stations – a 21st century grid should open new business opportunities for the utility as well as for entrepreneurs and local governments.
- Key reliable grid implementation milestones:
- Selective burying of power lines
- Full rollout of targeted smart grid
- Rollout of distributed generation
- Rollout of commissioning of buildings for EE and data capture
- Energy storage
- Annual grid infrastructure investment indices: thousands of construction, hundreds of permanent jobs; outage times; wholesale electric rate reductions
Our October 17th discussion will include the perspectives of decision makers from MD, DC and VA. Local leaders will share their thoughts and ideas and will participate in an open discussion.
RSVP Here! All are welcome!