NERC’s 2023 State of Reliability (SOR) report has revealed that the North American bulk power system (BPS) remains highly reliable and resilient overall. However, extreme weather events remain a significant threat to its reliability and stability.
The 2023 SOR Overview and Technical Assessment, which identifies system performance trends, emerging reliability risks, and measures the success of mitigation activities, providing valuable technical support and detailed analytics, states that the reliability of the transmission system has notably improved for the fifth consecutive year, and the rate of protection system misoperations continues to decrease. On the other hand, conventional generation faced challenges due to more frequent extreme weather, resulting in its highest level of unavailability since 2013 when NERC started collecting generator availability data.
Furthermore, the report highlights the importance of further developing and adapting reliability standards and guidelines in response to increased cybersecurity compromises and physical attacks on critical infrastructure.
“Today’s BPS transmission system is continuing to show improvements in reliability and resilience, despite more common and extreme weather trends. However, higher overall outage rates for coal and gas generation, as well as some utility-scale solar generation not operating as necessary for reliability, indicate that there is still significant work to be accomplished to accommodate the rapidly changing weather and generation resource mix in conjunction with electrification of the economy in a reliable manner,” said Donna Pratt, NERC’s performance analysis manager.
The SOR provides a comprehensive analysis of BPS performance in 2022, assessing its reliability in detail. Additionally, the report emphasizes the need for improved dynamic performance of inverter-based resources (IBR) to effectively leverage their rapid expansion within the BPS.
In response to the report’s findings and recommendations, NERC has undertaken several actions, including issuing a Level 3 essential action alert regarding cold weather preparations for extreme weather events, revising standards in response to cold weather events, expanding reliability assessment data requests during cold weather events, and issuing a Level 2 alert concerning issues related to IBRs. NERC also recommends industry action to implement guidelines for reliable operation with increasing IBR penetrations and highlights the necessity for significant improvement in IBR modeling requirements for reliable real-time operations. Furthermore, NERC’s Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) provided industry threat intelligence and produced numerous analytical products throughout 2022.