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A Recap of MRO’s 2023 Hybrid Reliability Conference

MRO’s Reliability Advisory Council (RAC) sponsored a well-attended and engaging Reliability Conference on May 17, 2023, with almost 400 individuals participating. The event was designed to raise awareness of the most impactful reliability risks to the MRO region, as well as emerging technologies that could help mitigate these risks.

Bryan Clark, MRO Director of Reliability Analysis, opened the conference by highlighting the RAC’s 2023 work plan and how RAC members contribute and lead risk mitigation efforts. Back by popular demand, Dallas Rowley (Director of System Operations at Oklahoma Gas & Electric and RAC member), did a fabulous job as the conference emcee. He began by welcoming everyone—both in person and virtually—and described the challenges the industry is facing and how events like this conference provide an opportunity to share and collaborate on solutions.

Richard Burt, MRO Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, provided opening remarks on “Maintaining a Reliable and Secure Regional Bulk Power System.” His presentation included a historical view of the incredible pace of electrification and the evolution of dependencies. He emphasized how the industry has always tackled complex problems with innovative and groundbreaking solutions. He noted the RAC’s contribution to MRO’s Regional Risk Assessment (RRA), which highlights the top risks to the region and describes risk mitigation activities and regional areas of focus.

Other conference topics included:

  • Multi-day Energy Storage Technology and Pilot Project

Andrew Rapin, Staff Project Engineer from Form Energy, discussed new iron-air battery technology, which was presented as a scalable, cost effective, long-duration battery solution. Form Energy is engaged in a pilot project with Great River Energy and several other companies.

  • Operational Resiliency in Response to Emerging Security Risks

Bob Taylor, Incident Command System and Emergency Preparedness Manager with Oklahoma Gas & Electric, described his company’s approach to addressing resiliency and incident challenges, including response plans, design considerations, and spare parts strategies.

  • The Evolution of Human Performance at MidAmerican Energy

Gary Riibe Jr., Manager Substation Operations-West with MidAmerican Energy Company (MEC), reviewed the evolution of MEC’s human performance (HP) program and application of HP principles. Specific tools used to implement the program and program successes were key topics.

  • A panel on facility ratings was moderated by Andy Witmeier, Director of Resource Utilization from Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO).

The following panelists provided brief facility ratings presentations followed by a question-and-answer session. Panel members discussed improvements they’ve added to their Facility Ratings Programs, the department that owns the Facility Ratings Program, and advice for entities establishing a more formal Facility Ratings Program. 

  • Dan Custer, General Manager, System Control and Grid Technology from MEC, described the company’s approach to implementing Ambient Adjusted Ratings and its collaboration with MISO on FERC Order 881. MEC has been applying ambient temperature adjusted ratings since 2003 and they continue to look at enhancements such as safeguards to detect/reject bad or stale temperature data and different wind categories for ratings that factor in seasonal assumptions.
  • Evan Wilcox, Director of Advanced Transmission Studies & Modeling at American Electric Power (AEP), highlighted the challenges AEP had to overcome with its Facility Ratings Database and related mitigation plans, and how the company developed process improvements that included asset management and new facility ratings.
  • Jon Radloff, Manager, Asset Data and Ratings from American Transmission Company (ATC), reviewed data comparison tools that help with detective control as well as specific preventative controls in place to ensure facility ratings databases are up to date. Jon finished with an overview that explained a “cradle to grave” process control.
  • Valerie Agnew, General Counsel for the North American Transmission Forum (NATF), highlighted NATF efforts associated with facility ratings data collection, benchmarking, and sharing of best practices. She also discussed NATF resources made available to industry on NATF’s website. NATF has been a partner with the ERO Enterprise since 2019 when it developed an industry problem statement.

The Reliability Conference closed with a presentation from Steven Breeding, Director of Sales at NuScale Power. NuScale has developed a transformational small modular reactor (“SMR”) that delivers scalable, safe, and reliable carbon-free nuclear power essential to meeting global decarbonization targets. Product features described included:  

  • Proven light water technology
  • Inherit safety features
  • Steady-state manufacturing
  • Competitive economics

Publicly available presentations and recordings from the conference are on MRO’s website.

Bryn Wilson, Senior Manager Grid Operations, Oklahoma Gas & Electric and RAC Member