Interconnected Bulk Energy System
James Robb is NERC President and CEO. Mark Lauby is NERC Senior Vice President and Chief Engineer.
As we continue to retire other forms of generation, such as coal and nuclear, natural gas has become the dominant fuel for electric power generation in the United States with power generation now the largest end use for natural gas. Initially, the experience of operating the gas - electric system was seen as interdependent.
However, recent experiences have illustrated that these two systems have become interconnected, rather than just interdependent. A new reliability paradigm, the Interconnected Bulk Energy System, emerges with this evolution, reflecting the increased interrelationship between the gas and electricity sectors that has been growing steadily since the 1980s and has accelerated during the energy transition.
Recent events impacting the delivery of natural gas and electricity to consumers during cold weather conditions further emphasize the fundamental shift in the relationship between the two sectors. The table highlights the critical role and interdependency of natural gas and electric power generation and provides a comparison of recent events and their effects on both the natural gas system and bulk electric system generation, all of which resulted in the need for load shed. See Figure 1.