In May, NERC released its most recent evaluation of the North American bulk transmission/generation system’s reliability. NERC reports steady progress.
Despite hysterical screaming by the electrical industry for the last two decades that we need more HV transmission lines to insure reliability, there isn’t even a mention of lack of capacity in NERC’s new report. Power companies (and our poor deluded friend at the NYT, Matt Wald) are still pointing to the 2003 US/Canada blackout to justify building more power lines.
Of course, that is just silly, as reliability expert George Loehr demonstrated clearly in his 2008 testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Loehr pointed out that cascading system failures are not caused by the inability to transfer power from one area to another, they are caused primarily by lack of standards for how operators respond to unusual events.
And here’s what NERC’s new report says:
Chapter 3 of this report discusses that protection system misoperations had the largest positive correlation with automatic transmission outage severity in 2012. The correlation is statistically significant: a pattern and underlying dependency exists between misoperations and transmission outage severity. On average, transmission events with misoperations were more impactful than transmission events without misoperations. They were also, in aggregate, the largest contributor to transmission severity. The relative risk of misoperations is the highest among all cause codes, excluding Weather and Unknown initiating causes. These facts indicate that a reduction of misoperations would lead to a great improvement in reliability.
Remember then-AEP CEO Mike Morris’s plan, stated at the 2005 Charleston Love Fest, to get PJM to use “reliability” for the Project Mountaineer smokescreen? Pure bunk.
The people who really manage system reliability don’t even consider transmission capacity as being an issue of any kind. Remember that the next time you hear a transmission project promoter claiming that his/her line is needed to prevent “blackouts.”