‘Resilience’ defined for regulators in NARUC paper

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‘Resilience’ as a term is increasingly being used in connection with the grid, but what does it mean? – in a new paper from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Department of Grants and Research, some insights are offered to stimulate dialogue on how it should be valued by utilities, consumers, and regulators.

The paper offers as a working definition for regulators: “Robustness and recovery characteristics of utility infrastructure and operations, which avoid or minimize interruptions of service during an extraordinary and hazardous event.”

Such extraordinary or hazardous events would include cyber attacks, large geomagnetic disturbances or extreme weather events.

As such ‘resilience’ is positioned as an aspect of ‘reliability’ – however, while the framework for evaluating reliability is well established, with standards and metrics such as SAIDI, SAIFI, etc., improvements may be needed to address resilience.

“This paper launches a critical discussion about how regulators should treat resilience investments,” said NARUC president Philip Jones of Washington. “Our job as regulators is to manage risks and ensure that consumers pay fair, just, and reasonable rates for safe and reliable utility services. Hardening the system against massive storms and other disruptions may require new regulatory tools that better evaluate these risks, along with a broader understanding about how we use and value utility services.”

The paper suggests that a risk-based approach to resilience may be necessary. Utilizing this approach will ensure that the elements of the grid that are most vulnerable will be addressed first, thus minimizing costs to consumers. A resilience investment may be particularly valuable in the face of high impact disasters and threats that utility systems have not faced before, like national-scale natural disasters or man-made cyber and physical attacks.

Read the paper HERE.

What is your view? Join the dialogue by adding your comments below.

By Jonathan Spencer Jones