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Columbia Energy Exchange

Andy Ott: Reliability of U.S. Power Markets

Concerns over the reliability and resilience of the U.S. electric grid have heightened over the past year or so, as policymakers, regulators and operators look closer at what it takes to assure adequate supplies of power at the least cost. And the issue is likely to remain one of the top energy priorities in Washington and state capitals in 2019.

On this edition of the Columbia Energy Exchange podcast, host Bill Loveless sits down with Andy Ott, the president and CEO of PJM Interconnection, the largest power grid in North America. PJM coordinates the movement of wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest as well as in the District of Columbia. Andy joined PJM 21 years ago and has been responsible for the design and implementation of PJM wholesale power markets. He became CEO in 2015.

Bill and Andy got together in Washington, D.C. to talk about PJM, which is attracting close attention, given its size. Their discussion took place just after PJM released a study examining fuel security for the system in coming years and amid efforts in Washington, D.C. and some states to keep old nuclear and coal plants from shutting down.

They talked about that study, which included both good news and some warnings, as well as the challenges of accommodating new policies and regulations without disrupting the economic efficiency of the power market. They also looked at wholesale power markets in general and how they have weathered the passage of time since the U.S. government authorized their establishment some 20 years ago. After all, more than half the country is served by such markets. Can they still meet their original objectives of keeping the cost of electricity down while at the same time promoting innovation?

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