This piece was published in Utility Dive on October 11, 2022. Read the full piece here.
This summer, blazing 100-degree-plus Fahrenheit temperatures pushed energy demands to record heights, prompting warnings to residents in Texas and southern California to prepare for rolling blackouts. This was the latest wake-up call that extreme weather events, exacerbated by climate change, are becoming more common. It also served as a reminder that Texas has been here before; the southern state’s grid cannot handle extreme heat or cold. Texas could keep the lights on if it had more capacity to bring power in from neighboring regions, fostered by a strong and interconnected electricity grid.
As extreme weather events keep on coming, Congress can and should shore up energy resilience by establishing a clear standard for inter-regional transmission support.
There are many ways to segment the U.S. electricity grid into a different number of regions, but a convenient one is 12 — 11 separate planning regions as defined by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the region in Texas served by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. These 12 regions, each covering one or more states, are responsible for planning transmission within their footprint to ensure a reliable flow of electricity. Existing interconnections between these regions allow electricity from one area to flow back and forth to another.
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