There seems to be interest in our national electric grid only when it is damaged with major blackouts due to weather or hacking. Many overlook that very little of the ambitious efforts to move to 100 percent renewable energy or the change over to electric vehicles can't successfully work without an expanded and smarter grid. This is a foundation for the new world of climate change that we have to get right and use the money wisely or climate mitigation will slow or fail.
So this week we're joined by Mark Dyson, Managing Director for Carbon-Free Electricity at the Rocky Mountain Institute to discuss his recent report, Reimagining Grid Resilience. Mark describes how investing in distributed energy resources, such as "behind-the-meter" photovoltaic solar panels both do more to improve the resilience of the grid and provide carbon and cost reduction benefits when everything is operating well. These "blue sky" benefits pay dividends around the clock and around the year. On the other hand, "hardening" against outages ("black sky") only provides benefits when systems would otherwise be malfunctioning. Such vulnerabilities to the grid itself do exist, as were demonstrated by the 2013 Metcalf sniper attack in the United States and the 2015 Ukraine power grid hack, but efficiency, insulation, and residential wind and solar represent far greater potential.
Mark also comments on the thoughtfulness of grid funding programs that are part of the bipartisan infrastructure law, including Energy Improvement in Rural Areas, Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid / Hazard Hardening, Program Upgrading Our Electric Grid and Ensuring Reliability and Resiliency and the Smart Grid Investment Matching Grant Program.