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Strengthening Grid Resilience at ResiliEX Summit 2.0

Seattle City Light and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory recently hosted the ResiliEX Summit 2.0. The summit was held at Seattle City Hall from April 23 to 25. The theme of this three-day event was “Grid Resilience to Extreme Events.” The aim was to improve our understanding of extreme events and how they affect the energy system. The event attracted more than 100 scientists, energy professionals, and policy experts from all over the country.

Laying the groundwork for a resilient future

ResiliEX provided a platform for sharing knowledge, experience, and inspiration. The goal was to learn how to shape a more resilient electric grid that can withstand the complex challenges of the climate crisis.

“What we are trying to do with this diverse group is to bring together scientists, energy professionals, and policy experts to build that shared knowledge and partnership needed to rally further actions.” — Climate Change Research and Adaptation Advisor, Ronda Strauch.

These were the main objectives of the summit:

  • Share knowledge. Connecting experts across fields to share insights and build partnerships.
  • Understand extremes. Getting a better grip on how extreme weather can impact our energy systems.
  • Be proactive. Designing our grid to be more adaptable and robust in response to climate change.
  • Inform policy and decision making. Highlighting the critical role of leaders in steering us toward a more resilient future.
  • Innovate new approaches: Looking for new technologies and strategies to improve grid resilience.

The summit featured over 30 keynote speeches, topic lectures, and panel discussions. Keynote speakers highlighted the urgency of finding solutions and the need to act fast to ensure grid resilience. As one speaker noted, “We are facing an era where a once-in a-lifetime weather event happens more frequently than we would like it to.” This means that it’s our task to ensure our infrastructure withstands these events while supporting our need to decarbonize and tackle the climate crisis head on.

“We know we have to change and adapt to our everyday changing circumstances at a more rapid pace, because the reality is that climate change isn’t something that’s happening in the future. Climate change is here.” – Seattle City Light Interim General Manager and CEO Dawn Lindell.

The ResiliEX Summit drew more than professionals and policymakers. A key highlight was a panel discussion on how electrical grid decisions affect our communities. This discussion, led by representatives from the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Duwamish River Community Coalition, and Klickitat Valley Health, shared the importance of including diverse community voices in decision-making. Building trust is important, and keeping communication lines open even after the work is done is essential.

Moving forward to accelerating action and building partnerships

The summit showed the complex and multi-dimensional challenges we face with grid resilience. These discussions underscored the need for a focused, group effort in our battle against climate change.

The consensus was clear: We must act quickly and effectively. “Deploy, deploy, deploy,” as one speaker put it, sums up the sense of urgency to act now. While there has been significant progress in the past few years, our standards and strategies must evolve. We need to keep pace with these rapid changes. This means breaking down silos and working together across different fields to tackle climate change. Going forward, each participant committed to a specific activity to improve outcomes. City Light attendees, for example, have begun addressing gaps in how climate change is incorporated into engineering and planning.

The discussions and proposed solutions from the summit will form part of a comprehensive report. This report will be developed over the next few months. We hope that the summit and this report will ignite accelerated action and purposeful partnerships to support grid reliability and community resilience into the future. Stay tuned for a potential future ResiliEX Summit 3.0!