Read More: Washington Examiner
The dependability of our energy supply is essential to our way of life. Many, especially those who lived through the energy crisis of the 1970s, understand this well when it comes to vehicle fuels like gasoline. But the public often doesn't think about the reliability of our nation's electrical supply, even though that reliability is just as critical to our nation's economy. Fortunately, there are those who are focused on keeping the American electric supply reliable. As a former commissioner of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a key part of my job was to regulate our nation's wholesale electricity markets and protect the reliability of our interstate electric grid. Recently, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry called for a report on the reliability of our power grid. In doing so, he indicated he wanted to ensure the nation's electric grid continues to provide the reliable power Americans have come to expect. It's a timely topic, and like many people, I'm looking forward to the final report. Our nation's electric grid is undergoing some of the most profound changes since its inception, so it's natural that the secretary would ask for an assessment of the electric system and recommendations to head-off any potential problems. In recent years, there has been a dramatic shift in how the nation generates its electricity. Thanks to America's shale gas revolution, a plentiful supply of affordable natural gas has changed the economics of electricity generation. Generation from natural gas fired plants has displaced other plants like coal and nuclear units. Intermittent resources like wind and solar power, supported by tax incentives, have become a more significant part of the electric system as well. In sum, we are asking our grid to be more flexible and resilient during a time when the generation mix is changing rapidly.