Heinrich, Wyden, Padilla Introduce Legislation to Strengthen America’s Electric Grid, Improve Data and Models for Energy Reliability

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) introduced two bills to bolster the nation’s power grid by improving data and models to better understand and predict electric reliability.  

More granular data is needed to better understand weather impacts on energy resources and demands, especially as extreme weather events exacerbated by climate change increase in frequency. Reliability data is also required at the community level to identify potential disparities and ensure energy equity. 

The Grid Reliability and Integrated Data (GRIData) Act will help utility customers understand where energy reliability improvements are needed— especially in rural and low-income communities — and how weather impacts the ability for power generation systems to meet expected electricity demands.    

Additionally, improved models are needed to account for increasing uncertainties associated with a rapidly changing grid. 

The Grid Modeling of Dynamic Energy Loads and Resources (Grid MODEL) Act will ensure that models used for energy resource planning include key uncertainties, like weather, when being used to determine the optimal mix of energy resources to meet electricity demands.  

“We must ensure that New Mexicans have the right resources to keep the lights on during extreme weather events and disasters exacerbated by climate change — especially in rural communities,” said Heinrich. “I’m proud to introduce the GRIData and Grid MODEL Acts, two bills that will strengthen our nation’s electrical grid by improving the data and models to help us build out a cleaner and smarter power system.” 

 “As the climate crisis brings on more dangerous weather and disasters, Oregonians have faced prolonged power outages when the grid goes down,” said Wyden. “Oregonians are already experiencing the effects of changing rain and snowfall levels on our hydropower, and the threats that winter storms and wildfires pose to our power grid. Understanding how the changing climate will impact how we produce and use the cheap, clean, and reliable energy that Oregon has in abundance will be essential to making sure that Oregonians — especially those in rural and low-income communities — don’t bake in the summer and freeze in the winter.” 

“Increasingly frequent extreme weather events pose major threats to our electric grid,” said Padilla. “Improving access to small-scale data and models is crucial for strengthening grid reliability in the face of the climate crisis. California is already successfully implementing stronger grid modeling standards, and these bills will enact similar provisions to help strengthen grid resiliency across the nation.” 

Specifically, the GRIData Act would: 

Require the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to explore ways to share data at a sufficiently granular level to support reliability and resilience of power distribution systems, especially in rural, low-income, disadvantaged, and energy communities. 

Instruct DOE to identify, analyze, and share more granular weather data that impact electricity demands, generation, transmission, and storage in a manner necessary to help improve resource adequacy modeling and integrated resource planning. 

Require DOE to serve as a centralized source for secure, standardized, and user-friendly dissemination of energy reliability and modeling data. 

The text of the GRIData Act is here.  

A one-page bill summary is here

The Grid MODEL Act would improve the reliability and adequacy of the bulk power system by ensuring key uncertainties in generation, transmission, energy storage systems, and loads are included in long-term reliability planning.  

Specifically, the Grid MODEL Act would: 

Direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to work with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to establish reliability standards that require probabilistic modeling and consideration of key uncertainties for resource adequacy modeling and integrated resource planning, reflecting the unique needs, resources, and attributes of different regions. 

Require the modeling to identify the most important factors that impact grid reliability to enable improvements to the modeling and determination of the optimal resource portfolio that meets electricity demands. 

The text of the Grid MODEL Act is here

A one-page bill summary is here

The GRIData and Grid MODEL Acts are endorsed by the American Council on Renewable Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists, Strategen, MIT, and Sharply Focused. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission supports the objectives to gather and share data for the purposes of ensuring and maintaining grid reliability. 

Endorser quotes and general statements of support for the GRIData and Grid MODEL Act can be found here

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