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Oncor Director Identifies Uncertainty as Biggest Challenge

Aug. 23, 2022
T&D World spoke with Oncor's David Treichler about how the power delivery industry must adapt to a new reality.

The U.S. electric power grid may be adapting to a new reality in coming years, and yet past lessons learned should adequately prepare it for the future, an industry expert says.

David Treichler, Oncor Electric Delivery’s director of strategy and technology, offers a pretty experienced view on where challenges await and opportunities exist for utilities and other transmission and distribution infrastructure partners. Dallas-based Oncor is one of the nation’s biggest transmission entities covering some 140,000 miles of line ultimately delivering power to more than 400 Texas communities.

So Treichler sees the future of power grid writ large every day. The state has the nation’s largest installed capacity of wind power, while also balancing gas, nuclear, solar and, increasingly, battery storage into the interconnection mix.

Treicher is going to be one of experts feature in sessions at the first-ever T&D World Conference and Exhibition happening Oct. 5-7 at the Sheraton Downtown in Charlotte. He also is part of the T&D World Conference advisory board.

Sessions featuring Treichler will focus on electric vehicle adoption and grid resiliency. Other utilities sending expert panelists to the T&D World event will include Florida Power & Light, Xcel Energy, National Grid, Ameren and sponsoring utility Duke Energy.

The T&D World Conference and Exhibition is an event created with the help of utilities for utilities. As such, deep registration discounts are available for attendees from utilities. You can learn more at

Treichler participated in a recent Q&A with the T&D World team on some of critical grid issues going forward.

T&D World: What are the top challenges/issues the electricity industry faces?

Treichler: “The most significant electric industry challenges all relate to uncertainty – as demonstrated by the disruption and lingering effects of COVID, supply chain disruption to include skilled labor shortages and unacceptable equipment lead times which will impact our ability to serve our customers, and new technologies which bring forward unknowns about long term performance, adaptability to changing environmental exposures, and security/interoperability of highly complex software driven systems.”

T&D World: What are the greatest opportunities you see for the electric utility industry moving forward?

Treichler: “We have the opportunity to create a much more secure, flexible, adaptable and resilient grid with the architectures, technologies and new and evolving generation sources and loads we are adding. The ability to apply the lessons from 135 years of operations and the insights from how others have applied the emerging approaches should give us the ability to enhance the experience of our customers’ needing electrification.”

T&D World: What promising technologies will help T&D companies meet their challenges and better manage their assets?

Treichler: “Robust solid-state systems will reduce size and weight of some T&D assets, increasing the ease of replacement, greater flexibility and improved power quality. Algorithmic analysis enhanced by machine learning is providing increasing insights into the condition and likely useful life of assets prior to failure and enables predictive replacement. This will become an increasingly prevalent approach to asset management.”

T&D World: Oncor operates in ERCOT, which faces some unique challenges and has been under much scrutiny since February 2021. Have the short-term measures put in place since then improved grid operations overall and for Oncor?

Treichler: “I can only speak to the measures Oncor has taken to improve grid operations overall, which has included the complete replacement of the software systems that operate during load shed events, an examination of ways to reduce the number of non-sheddable elements of under frequency circuits and improve our overall registration of those gas pipeline meters that must remain on-line to serve generation. These and other actions Oncor has taken will significantly improve our ability to manage another Uri-like event.”

T&D World: Oncor has established a Strategy Coordination Council, what is the purpose of this organization and what kind of topics does it explore?

Treichler: “Oncor established a Strategy Coordination Council to better communicate the various strategies the company is pursuing across the enterprise. In July, Peter Zeihan, an economic demographer, who recently published a best-selling book entitled The End of the World is Just the Beginning, discussed how demographic factors at play are shaping the many changes in the world. He provided an overview of the kinds and likely duration of supply chain challenges we are facing, and identified two Black Swan events that we should prepare for. In August, McKinsey (& Company) is discussing the forecasts for Rooftop solar in Texas.”

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