Thanks, David. I want to start by thanking you and the team for all the work you did in putting this technical conference together and getting us ready. I also want to thank each of the panelists for taking time out of your busy schedules to participate today.
Today the Commission isn’t just hosting your run-of-the-mill technical conference. Instead, I believe the subject matter we are discussing addresses the Commission’s and NERC’s most important responsibility: Maintaining the reliability of the Bulk Power System.
When the power goes out, especially for extended periods of time, lives literally are at stake: We witnessed that in Texas in February in the midst of Winter Storm Uri and, more recently, in Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Ida.
We are going to be covering a lot of ground today. But when you boil it down, there are two main threats to grid reliability:
The first is extreme weather associated with climate change: Extreme heat, record-setting cold, droughts that go on for years, wildfire seasons that start earlier and last longer and more ferocious hurricanes. Now, the other day on Capitol Hill one of my colleagues attacked a congressional proposal to promote clean energy – he compared it to an “H-bomb.”
We don’t have enough time this morning to address the absurdity of likening a program to help mitigate against extreme weather to a weapon of mass destruction. But I want to challenge everyone to look at the pictures of the utter devastation that these wildfires and hurricanes have caused. Just speak to those who had family members that literally froze to death in Texas – and then tell us the status quo is just fine.
Make no mistake, climate change is the reliability challenge we face. If we fail to take serious action to mitigate climate change, we are signing up for ever-more serious reliability problems in the years ahead.
A different generation mix presents certain challenges and will come with certain costs. But those challenges are not at all insurmountable.
The second threat comes from potential attacks – whether they be cyber or physical – against the grid. You only need to open up a newspaper or turn on the news on TV to know that the threat of cyber attacks continues to increase as nation-states develop increasingly sophisticated cyber weapons while cyber gangs continue to profit from the deployment of ransomware across the U.S. economy. Although the bulk power system has been fortunate to date, this threat requires ever-increasing vigilance.
So, I look forward to the discussion that will take place today. There is a lot to talk about and I expect to learn a great deal from the panelists we have assembled.
I’m now going to turn to our colleagues for their opening comments, and we will start with Commissioner Danly.