The Importance of Energy System Resilience

NYC Blackout

The widespread power outage caused by Hurricane Sandy and the Super Bowl blackout are just the latest high-profile examples of our nation’s vulnerable electric grid – a system that relies on an outdated model of centralized generation and long-distance transmission.  These painful events make it all-too-clear that the current energy system is unacceptably fragile and increasingly susceptible to stronger and more frequent disruptions due to climate change, as well as to potential terrorist attacks.

The Clean Coalition understands the need to address grid resilience by transitioning to a decentralized power system.  Integrating distributed generation (DG) from renewable source with intelligent grid (IG) solutions – like energy storage and demand response – will result in a significantly more resilient energy system.  To expedite this transition, policies must be updated to align economic interests amongst utilities and ratepayers, while updated technical standards are needed to facilitate seamless interaction between high levels of DG and the IG solutions that enable supply and demand of energy to be balanced at the local level.

Given the importance of technical standards to the DG+IG future, the Clean Coalition is an active participant in IEEE Standard 1547, which governs how distributed resources interconnect to the electrical grid.  The Clean Coalition seeks to change standards so that DG and IG resources can utilize advanced inverter capabilities, including fault ride-through and reactive power provisioning, to allow DG+IG resources to provide high quality electricity service even during major grid disruptions.  Simultaneously, the Clean Coalition is working with regulatory agencies and legislatures to design and implement policies that properly quantify the value of DG+IG and compensate accordingly.

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John Bernhardt heads communications for the Clean Coalition — a national leader in clean local energy solutions. He shares analysis and best practices from energy policies that are driving clean energy transformations around the world. His work accelerating the transition to local energy systems has resulted in stories in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, AOL Energy and more. John Bernhardt can also be found on Twitter @Clean_Coalition or

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