Underutilized

Power sector’s progress marred by a bad couple of weeks

Major progress in the utility sector can be seen in the forms of integrating renewable energy to the grid, shoring up security measures, and the inclusion of battery storage and microgrid function to the industry. Maintenance of utilities has also become more advanced of late, as drones and preventative methods are becoming more effective when added to the equation. Unfortunately, the sector has had a rough stretch in late July

Exhibit A: A web briefing from the Department of Homeland Security on July 25 said that Russian hackers infiltrated a number of utilities control rooms over at least the past year, and potentially dating back to 2014. This gave them access to vendor and provider information, as well as the ability to cause blackouts and disrupt service.

“The hackers accessed utility networks by compromising vendor companies who do business with the utilities, officials said in a statement. “The attacks began in 2016, continued through last year and are ongoing.”

Next up was a blow to one of those promising positives in utilities’ future mentioned above. On July 27, American Electric Power cancelled what would’ve been the largest wind power project in the U.S. after a Texas rejection. AEP canceled the planned 2 GW Wind Catcher project after Texas utility regulators unanimously rejected it last Thursday, saying it did not provide enough benefit to customers, per Utility Dive.

Texas has the most installed wind capacity in the country, but still plenty of space to develop.

Lastly–and this one’s not all bad, depending which way you’re leaning—NextEra announced it will shut down a nuclear plant in Iowa. Almost all nukes are being shut down across the country and abroad. Some feel it is a valuable source of power and a huge waste of expenses and resources to shut them down, while many others invite the phasing out of nuclear power due to its potentially dangerous environment and welcome the onslaught of renewable energy to supplant it.

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