Microgrids, big and small, are able to operate separately from the regional electrical grid during power outages. Russ Zimmer
I have the privilege of serving on CNA’s Military Advisory Board — more than 30 retired three- and four-star generals and admirals from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard who study pressing issues of the day to assess the impact of those issues on America’s national security. Energy is one of our top concerns.
Reliable electricity underpins every facet of American lives. Without it, our homes, our businesses and our national security engine would grind to a halt — especially when so much of this power is becoming “smart” and integrated. Yet the nation’s electrical generation and distribution infrastructure, commonly referred to as “the grid,” is showing its age and vulnerability — no wonder, since the grid was conceived more than a hundred years ago.
Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn, USN (Ret.)
Vice Admiral Lee F. Gunn, USN (Ret.) (Photo: Provided by Lee Gunn)
We’ve studied the risks to our grid and worked hard to identify policies that can mitigate them. Our key findings are found in our reports “National Security and Assured U.S. Electrical Power” and “Advanced Energy and U.S. National Security,” both available for free at http://www.cna.org/MAB/reports.
I recently had the opportunity to meet with a number of Nevada’s legislators and to present our key findings to the Assembly’s Growth and Infrastructure Committee. This was my fourth visit to Nevada over the last three years to speak with state agencies, legislators and other elected officials concerned with these issues. I’m pleased that Nevada has demonstrated leadership in enacting policies that diversify energy supply, expand the distributed generation of electricity and provide incentives for energy storage.
There’s more that needs to be done. Fortunately, your 2019 Legislature is also discussing forward-thinking actions on clean energy such as a stronger renewable energy portfolio standard and the electrification of transportation. These and other policies will increase Nevada’s leadership in clean, advanced energy in a way that benefits Nevadans and demonstrates a model for other states. Such policies enhance our national security.
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We find ourselves at a unique point in history. On one hand, we have an aging grid with increasing vulnerabilities and determined adversaries. On the other hand, we have advancing technologies and proven, innovative sources that are much more capable of producing electrical power closer to the consumer. We have the technology to build a grid that is more resilient and much less of a strategic target for adversaries, and at the same time will be more flexible and able to accept future technological advances in energy production. Because our adversaries are determined and the threats to our electrical grid and national security are real and substantial, we believe that the time to fix the issues with our grid is now.
Nevada has already shown that it’s willing to be at the forefront of innovation and problem-solving. I urge Nevada’s policymakers to seize this challenge and opportunity. In 1864, Nevada became the “Battle Born” state with the development of its silver resources helping preserve our nation and advance freedom. Leadership in the 2019 legislative session that accelerates the development of Nevada’s clean energy resources has the potential to significantly improve our national system of generating, storing and delivering electrical energy while advancing the security of the United States and demonstrating American leadership to the world.