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Quadrennial Energy Review - Jan 2017 (notes)

"The electricity system we have today was developed over more than a century and includes thousands of generating plants, hundreds of thousands of miles of transmission lines, distribution systems serving hundreds of millions of customers, a growing number of distributed energy resources, and billions of enduse devices and appliances. These elements are connected together to form a complex system of systems."

"The electricity sector is, however, confronting a complex set of changes and challenges, including: aging infrastructure; a changing generation mix; growing penetration of variable generation; low and in some cases negative load growth; climate change; increased physical and cybersecurity risks; and in some regions widespread adoption of distributed energy resources (DER). "

"The growing interconnectedness of the grid’s energy, communications and data flows creates enormous opportunities; at the same time, it creates the potential for a new set of risks and vulnerabilities. Also, the emerging threat environment, particularly with respect to cybersecurity and increases in the severity of extreme weather events, poses challenges for the reliability, security, and resilience of the electricity sector, as well as to its traditional governance and regulatory regimes."

"The reliability of the electric system underpins virtually every sector of the modern U.S. economy. Reliability of the grid is a growing and essential component of national security."

"Electricity outages disproportionately stem from disruptions on the distribution system (over 90 percent of electric power interruptions), both in terms of the duration and frequency of outages; this is largely due to weather-related events."

"The leading cause of power outages in the United States is extreme weather, including heat waves, blizzards, thunderstorms, and hurricanes. Events with severe consequences are becoming more frequent and intense, due to climate change, and have been the principal contributors to an observed increase in the frequency and duration of power outages in the United States."

"The current cybersecurity landscape is characterized by rapidly evolving threats and vulnerabilities, juxtaposed against the slower-moving deployment of defense measures. Mitigation and response to cyber threats are hampered by inadequate information-sharing processes between government and industry, the lack of security-specific technological and workforce resources, and challenges associated with multi-jurisdictional threats and consequences. System planning must evolve to meet the need for rapid response to system disturbances."

"Job growth in renewable energy is particularly strong. Employment in the solar industry has grown over 20 percent annually from 2013 to 2015. From 2010 to 2015, the solar industry created 115,000 new jobs. In 2016, approximately 374,000 individuals worked, in whole or in part, for solar firms, with more than 260,000 of those employees spending most of their time on solar. There were an additional 102,000 workers employed at wind firms across the Nation. The solar workforce increased by 25 percent in 2016, while wind employment increased by 32 percent."

"In the United States, there are around 7,700 operating power plants... 707,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines... more than 1 million rooftop solar installations... 55,800 substations... 147 million customers. This drives an $18.6 trillion US gross domestic product and significantly influences global economic activity totaling roughly $80 trillion."

"The accumulated evidence of decades of climate science clearly shows that humans are impacting the climate system in new and damaging ways, primarily through the emissions of greenhouse gases. The 17 warmest years on record have occurred in the last 18 years, with 2015 being the warmest year on record and 2016 will likely set yet another record."

"The reliability of the electric system underpins virtually every sector of the modern U.S. economy. Reliability of the grid is a growing and essential component of national security. Standard definitions of reliability have focused on the frequency, duration, and extent of power outages. With the advent of more two-way flows of information and electricity—communication across the entire system from generation to end use, controllable loads, more variable generation, and new technologies such as storage and advanced meters—reliability needs are changing, and reliability definitions and metrics must evolve accordingly."

"Virtually every sector of the modern U.S. economy depends on electricity—from food production, to banking, to health care. Critical infrastructures like oil, gas, transportation, and water all depend on electricity, and the electric system depends on them. This places a high premium on reliability."

"A National Research Council study of the 2003 blackout in the Midwest, Northeast, and Canada concluded that “the economic cost of the 2003 blackout came to approximately $5 per forgone kilowatt-hour, a figure that is roughly 50 times greater than the average retail cost of a kilowatt-hour in the United States.”88 Data suggest that electricity system outages attributable to weather-related events are increasing, costing the U.S. economy an estimated $20 billion to $55 billion annually."

"Cyber attacks are emerging and rapidly evolving threats that may increase the vulnerability of utilities’ system operations. Understanding the various established and emerging risks to the electricity system, including characterization of historical trends and future projections, as well as the predictability of different threats, has important implications for threat mitigation and resilience."

"Some types of extreme weather are becoming more frequent and intense due to climate change, and these trends have been the principal contributors to an observed increase in the frequency and duration of power outages in the United States between 2000 and 2012."

"Superstorm Sandy demonstrated the severe impacts of a large storm and the interdependencies of electricity and other infrastructures. The storm knocked out power to 8.66 million customers from North Carolina to Maine and as far west as Illinois and Wisconsin."

"As air temperature continue to rise, since 1970, the number of cooling degree days has increased in the United States by roughly 20 percent, while the number of heating degree days has declined."

"Hurricane Matthew began impacting the southeast United States on Thursday, October 6, 2016, and the flooding caused by the storm continues to affect North Carolina and South Carolina. The initial effects of the storm were felt from Florida to Virginia, with increased rain and wind causing damage to energy infrastructure. Industry efforts to restore that damaged infrastructure are ongoing and have involved mutual assistance from utilities from across the country. More than 99 percent of customers who lost power had their power restored within 8 days."

"The evolving demands on the electricity industry are causing a number of workforce challenges for the electricity industry, which include large shifts in skills needed and in geographic location of jobs, a skills gap for deploying and operating newer technologies, changes occurring during a period when the industry is facing high levels of retirements, and challenges recruiting and retaining a workforce that reflects the gender and racial diversity of the Nation. At the same time, the evolution of the industry is also creating a number of new workforce opportunities, including jobs in renewable energy, natural gas, and information and communications technology (ICT)."

"This loss of coal jobs can be attributed to increased efficiencies in mining and, later, a reduction in coal demand over the last several decades. Between 1985 and 2001, coal production increased 28 percent, as industry employment fell by 59 percent, due to the increased efficiencies in the industry and by the shifting of production and lower sulfur coal produced by shifting production from Appalachia to the Western U.S., especially within the Powder River Basin."

"From 2001 to 2015, annual (coal) mining productivity in Appalachia ranged from 5,100 tons per employee to 8,100 tons per employee; in the West, it ranged from 35,000 tons per employee to 45,000 tons per employee."

"More than 45 percent of the mining workforce is over 45 years old. For these employees, finding alternative employment—especially at a similar income level—can be more challenging than for younger workers with more time ahead of them in the labor force."

"The largest coal-miner pension fund, United Mine Workers of America’s 1974 Pension Plan, has 90,000 beneficiaries, with only 8,000 working members still contributing to the fund—a 9 percent ratio of contributing workers to active beneficiaries."

"Coal production is projected to decline in the coming years in the business-as-usual scenario shown here, while natural gas production is forecast to increase substantially. These changes imply the employment prospects within these two industries. Though the oil and gas industry has lost a substantial number of jobs in 2015 and 2016, the industry is forecast to increase production in the long term."

“Assuring that we have reliable, accessible, sustainable, and affordable electric power is a national security imperative. Our increased reliance on electric power in every sector of our lives, including communications, commerce, transportation, health and emergency services, in addition to homeland and national defense, means that large-scale disruptions of electrical power will have immediate costs to our economy and can place our security at risk. Whether it is the ability of first responders to answer the call to emergencies here in the United States, or the readiness and capability of our military service members to operate effectively in the U.S. or deployed in theater, these missions are directly linked to assured domestic electric power.”

"The National Infrastructure Coordinating Center and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center are the national focal points for industry partners to obtain 24/7 situational awareness and integrated actionable information to secure the Nation’s physical and cyber critical infrastructure, respectively.123 During major incidents, the National Infrastructure Coordinating Center and the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center closely coordinate with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to ensure that overall critical infrastructure status and impacts on life and safety are understood throughout the Federal incident response community."


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