Over the next ten years, the electric industry will face a number of significant emerging reliability issues. The confluence of these uses will drive a transformational change for the industry, potentially resulting in a dramatically different resource mix, a new market for emissions trading, a need for enhanced modeling, and a new risk framework built to address growing critical infrastructure and protection concerns—both physical and cyber. Each of these elements of change is critically interdependent and industry action must be closely coordinated to ensure reliability. Page 1, NERC Reliability Assessment November 2011
The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) recently released its 2011 Long-term Reliability Assessment. The above quote taken from the report underscores what utilities have been discussing for the last few years. However, despite an increase in conversations about these issues, phrases like significant emerging reliability issues, transformational change and dramatically different resource mix are enough to send shock waves through an industry built on stability. Until recently, everyone valued the comfort and security of the traditional stable electric utility. But something has happened. Consumer demands regularly addressed by other industries have caught up with the electric industry. Customers, shareholders, employees and even competitors want more and they want it now – more information, more options and better overall services. To my surprise, I have nicknamed 2011 “The Year of the Opt-Out” thanks to Maine and California. Yet I have the strangest feeling we have not seen anything yet. Buckle up because I think 2012 will be akin to having a front row seat on the fastest, craziest ride coming to an amusement park near you this spring.