Group Launched to Educate Electric Reliability Regulators about New Clean Energy Sources

27 Jun 2018

GridLab launched a new engagement and educational effort, CleanNERC, to represent the interests of clean energy technologies and increase the understanding of these technologies by the regulators of electric reliability. A primary focus will be participating at the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) and providing NERC and its stakeholders with information about the capabilities of inverter-based resources like wind, solar, and battery storage. These new technologies can offer superior performance in providing many grid reliability services, yet rules and standards that were developed with other technologies in mind do not always accommodate them or use them to their full advantage. CleanNERC will advocate for non-discriminatory rules that allow all resources to contribute to grid reliability. 

CleanNERC enjoys the support and cooperation of the wind, solar, and storage industries. 

SEIA: “Solar technology is growing rapidly, and it’s critical that reliability standards keep pace with that growth. CleanNERC will help ensure solar energy can continue its expansion and increase solar’s contributions to electric reliability.” 

- Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State Affairs, Solar Energy Industries Association 

AWEA: “We look forward to partnering with CleanNERC to build on the wind industry’s history of being good citizens of the grid, and working with system operators and planners to provide clear rules of the road so wind can continue to contribute to system reliability and resilience.” 

- Sari Fink, Senior Director of Electricity & Transmission Policy, American Wind Energy Association 

ACORE: “Renewable power and storage are game-changing applications in the shift toward a modernized U.S. power grid that offers economic savings and improved resilience and reliability. We look forward to working with CleanNERC, which will play a critical stakeholder role with NERC to ensure the compelling grid reliability capabilities of these technologies are fully recognized.” 

- Todd Foley, Senior Vice President of Policy & Government Affairs, American Council on Renewable Energy 

ESA: “Energy storage serves as a central catalyst for a more flexible and reliable grid, and the NERC reliability rules and standards must evolve to incorporate these advances. We look forward to engaging with CleanNERC in this important work.” 

- Marissa Gillett, Vice President of External Relations, Energy Storage Association 

Sustainable FERC: “With accelerating demand for rooftop solar, energy storage, and other distributed energy resources, CleanNERC will fill a crucial need in helping NERC and others fully understand the grid reliability and resilience values of DERs.” 

- John Moore, Director of the Sustainable FERC Project at the Natural Resources Defense Council 


Wind, solar, and battery storage are similar in that they all use inverters and power electronics to convert the direct current (DC) energy they produce to the alternating current (AC) that is widely used on the power system today. These power electronics generally offer grid operators a faster and more customizable response than conventional power plants. Some aspects of power system operations also change with large amounts of wind and solar energy, and reliability authorities and grid operators need to change how they plan and operate their power systems as the resource mix changes. 

Electric reliability and resilience are a hot topic, and CleanNERC fills a key educational and participation void. Reliability authorities such as NERC have stakeholder committees with significant participation from utilities and owners of conventional generation, but as new technologies and often newer companies, wind, solar, demand response, and battery storage interests may not have the history or staff to fully participate in such committees. Many of the established stakeholders that do participate at NERC are not yet familiar with the extensive research by grid operators, national laboratories, and other experts documenting the characteristics of these new resources. CleanNERC will work with reliability authorities to increase understanding of these new technologies and promote continued reliable integration of clean energy onto the grid. NERC is a nonprofit organization given authority by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to regulate the reliability and security of the North American electric grid. 

CleanNERC Leadership 

Ric O’Connell, Executive Director of GridLab, will lead the CleanNERC project. O’Connell started GridLab in 2017 after 12 years as a clean energy industry leader at the global engineering firm Black & Veatch. O’Connell has provided engineering support for more than 8 GW of utility-scale solar projects worldwide, including several of the largest projects in the world. GridLab is a nonprofit that provides comprehensive and credible technical expertise on the design, operation, and attributes of a flexible and dynamic grid. GridLab assists policy makers, advocates, and other energy decision makers to formulate and implement an effective energy transformation roadmap. 

Michael Goggin, Vice President of Grid Strategies LLC, will be the primary representative of CleanNERC on NERC’s key committees and task forces. Grid Strategies is a consultancy focused on reliable and efficient delivery and integration of clean energy into the bulk power system. Michael has served on various NERC Committees and led technical power market and transmission work for the American Wind Energy Association for ten years.