NRECA is recommending that federal regulators consider the impacts of climate change and extreme weather on electric system reliability together with economic and technological issues rather than in isolation. The association also stressed the importance of local solutions to grid issues.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requested input from the electric sector as it explores climate and weather challenges to electric system reliability and the Biden administration's call for carbon-free electricity by 2035 and a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.

“The Commission should consider the impact of climate change and extreme weather on electric system reliability together with—and not in isolation from—other technological, economic, and public policy changes affecting the electric utility industry," NRECA told FERC in comments filed April 15.

“These changes are interrelated, and they should be evaluated together when identifying and addressing risks to electric system reliability."

Pathways to achieving the White House's carbon reduction goals must “ensure the availability of affordable, reliable electricity to every community, including the rural communities electric cooperatives serve," NRECA told the commission.

NRECA detailed the following points in response to FERC's inquiry:

  • Reliability goes well beyond the bulk power system to include service to distribution electric cooperative consumer-members.

  • Most challenges to electric reliability—including those due to extreme weather events—are primarily on distribution systems, requiring local solutions by utilities working with their communities.

  • There is long-term value in maintaining a balanced portfolio with geographic diversity of generation resources, including coal and natural gas generation.

  • A significant expansion of transmission and distribution infrastructure will be needed to support broader deployment of renewable generation resources and increased electrification throughout the economy.

  • State and local interests, including regulatory authorities and electric cooperative boards, are well positioned to address the need for reliability assessments and the impact of low-carbon goals.

  • To achieve greater electric system resilience, FERC should ensure its policy solutions are focused at the local, state and regional levels.