A resilient energy system is vital to every critical function and sector of the US economy and to the communities that depend upon its services.
Resilience is defined as a system’s ability to prevent, withstand, adapt to, and quickly recover from a high-impact, low-likelihood event such as a major disruption in a transmission pipeline. In comparison, reliability refers to a systems’ ability to maintain energy delivery under standard operating conditions, such as the normal fluctuations in demand and supply.
Disruptions to the US energy system can create widespread economic and social impacts, including losses in productivity, health, and safety issues, and—in the most extreme cases—loss of life. The energy system’s resilience must be considered and appropriately valued as utilities, system operators, regulators, and policymakers contemplate future energy infrastructure designs and operations.
The American Gas Foundation commissioned Building a Resilient Energy Future: How the Gas System Contributes to US Energy System Resilience to provide a framework for regulators, policymakers, and other stakeholders to examine energy system resilience and the role of the natural gas system.
This study addresses four key questions:
- What are the characteristics of the US gas system that contribute to its resilience?
- How do those resilience characteristics allow the US gas system to contribute to the overall resilience of the US energy system?
- How can the US gas system be leveraged more effectively to strengthen the US energy system?
- What are the policy and regulatory changes needed to ensure that gas infrastructure can be maintained and developed to continue to support energy system resilience?
These questions were explored through a qualitative assessment conducted by the firm Guidehouse, including discussions and interviews with energy industry experts. The report features several case studies to illustrate and provide a framework for assessing the US gas system’s attributes contributing to broader energy system resilience.
The report highlights the gas system’s ability to support resilience through its inherent, physical, and operational capabilities that enable it to meet the volatile demand profiles resulting from resilience events. Guidehouse found that the gas system supports a quick response to events and provides long-duration storage resources to meet peak and seasonal energy demand. The findings presented in this work also identify issues that merit consideration and further exploration when developing future energy policy and regulation to ensure a resilient, reliable, and clean future energy system in all regions and jurisdictions.