Colette Honorable, chair of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday (April 10).
Honorable discussed threats to the reliability of the nation’s electric grid as it pertains to natural disasters and potential terrorist threats. She made her remarks in her role as President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), a group of utility regulators and industry leaders.
In her opening remarks, Honorable underscored three keys to her testimony:
I have three main thoughts I would like to share with you today. First, State utility regulators share your concern about the resilience of our electric system – for us it is “job number one” every day. Second, the resilience that our ratepayers expect includes not only security from physical and cyber attacks but also the ability to bounce back from severe storms and to accommodate the impacts of marketplace changes and shifting regulations. Third, NARUC and the States have already taken several specific important steps toward a more resilient grid.
Honorable said that for commissions like the PSC ratepayer fairness for regulated utilities is a paramount driver of decision-making.
State commissions seek investments that deliver the best system improvements and ratepayer value. To do so, a risk-based approach is preferred. As utilities seek cost-recovery for resilience investments, we need them to prioritize what aspects of their systems are the most vulnerable so we can put ratepayer money where it is most needed first. Whether these investments address physical or cyber security, they must prudently meet the prevailing expectations of reliability and affordability for the ratepayer.
Finally, Honorable told the panel that more takeaways from responses are needed in the discussion on improving the security of the nation’s electric grid.
As we’ve seen across the country, States are pursuing innovative approaches to ensuring grid resilience. Some States deal with hurricanes and tornados more frequently than others; we hope to learn from our colleagues in States that are already pursuing resilience programs. While NARUC does not endorse any particular approach, we can learn a great deal from the States who are pushing ahead with new and innovative policies. We applaud their efforts. Typically the general public doesn’t think of resilience until after a hurricane or other natural or manmade disaster knocks out power to millions. We hope that, through these discussions, we can all be better prepared.
You can read her full comments at this link.