From the Board Chair and President and CEO
Dear Members and Stakeholders:
The board is piloting a new meeting schedule this year aimed at creating greater alignment with NERC activities and reducing meeting conflicts. The first meeting on February 8 was fully virtual and held about a month ahead of the typical time. We welcomed new board members: Fred Meyer (Algonquin Power) representing the Generator Power Marketer Sector; Michael Desselle (Southwest Power Pool) representing the Transmission System Operator Sector; Paul Crist (Lincoln Electric System) representing the Municipal Utility Sector; and Sandra Johnson (Xcel Energy) representing the Investor-Owned Utility Sector.
Protecting the security of the regional bulk power system was a key area of focus at the meetings. Staff from the Office of Intelligence and Analysis at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attended the board’s closed session to provide a briefing on security threats specific to the electric sector. This update was part of an ongoing effort at the DHS to deliver timely, risk-based information to federal, state, and tribal agencies and private sector partners to help companies understand the threat landscape and protect critical infrastructure assets and communities.
At the open meeting, Joe Marshall, Senior IoT Security Strategist with Cisco Talos Intelligence Group, shared an innovative solution that Cisco developed with assistance from the federal government to help Ukraine maintain electric reliability amidst Russian electronic warfare.
These reports underscore the very real and expanding security threats facing the electric sector that require constant vigilance and monitoring. Registered entities in the region are encouraged to join the Electricity-Information Sharing and Analysis Center, if not members already.
The board approved MRO’s 2024 Strategic Metrics in closed session. Staff provided reports on the highest priority areas, which include the congressionally mandated Interregional Transfer Capability Study (ITCS) and state and provincial outreach efforts. Meeting the objectives of the ITCS and completing it on time is the number one priority for MRO as this project will have broad ranging impacts on how the future grid is planned and operated.
Equally important is raising awareness of the impact local policy decisions have on reliability of the interconnected bulk power system, which has been amplified by the proliferation of distributed energy resources and the changing resource mix. Facilitating targeted discussions with local regulatory agencies and policymakers on the most impactful risks is just one way MRO and the ERO Enterprise are staying ahead of this risk.
The challenges facing the electric utility industry are enormous…as are the opportunities. We must respond with an unwavering commitment to collaboratively identify solutions that hold reliability and security at the forefront of decisions that affect the bulk power system.
You can read more about the discussions and actions taken at the first quarter board meeting in the full meeting minutes, which will be available on MRO’s website soon.
We continue to be impressed and inspired by the amount of engagement at, and meaningful output from, MRO’s quarterly board meetings and encourage MRO members and registered entities to participate.
Dr. Dana Born, Board Chair, and Sara Patrick, President and CEO