NRDC Policy Brief: Ensuring Grid Reliability

WASHINGTON, D.C. – With much of the nation enduring record heat and strains on the electricity grid, a new report today from NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) highlights the investments needed to ensure our electricity system is ready for the climate challenges before it.

“Investing now in a grid that’s nimble and resilient will ensure the electricity system can handle whatever gets thrown its way,” said Christy Walsh, a senior policy analyst in the Sustainable FERC Project at NRDC and author of the policy brief. “Building a stronger, cleaner electricity system is the best way to keep the lights on and air conditioners humming.”

The report, Building a Stronger, Cleaner Electric Grid, documents how to get – and why we need – a grid that’s resilient to unexpected storms, high heat, and drought. No one electricity source is perfect: coal piles freeze, gas supplies get interrupted, and nuclear plants are taken offline before a hurricane hits, but the electricity system can be built to handle the challenges before it. 

For this summer, grid operators and utilities should have the tools they need under typical weather conditions. But there could be challenges if there are extended heat waves, fires or intense storms. Utilities and grid operators need to do all they can now to prepare.

Over the coming years, grid reliability would benefit from the climate legislation being considered in Congress under budget reconciliation, the policy brief shows. To help increase grid resiliency, this legislation will drive new investments in: 

  • long-distance transmission lines; 
  • solar and wind power, especially in energy justice communities; 
  • weatherization and energy efficiency; 
  • sales of electric vehicles, which can become backup batteries for customers and the grid.  

Congressional legislation, along with actions from sates, public service commissions, grid operators, and federal regulators can spur investments in clean energy, energy efficiency, demand response, storage, and transmission lines that we need.

“While the fossil fuel industry is trying to use the current strains to advocate for more dirty energy, a clean, resilient electricity system is the best way forward,” Walsh said.

For more on this topic, please see Christy’s blog here.

NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world's natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

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