Mark Stansberry

America’s Energy Reliability, Part 3


America’s energy reliability is essential for both the power generation and transportation needed for our country. As the last two articles on America’s energy reliability have stated, accessibility, affordability and reliability are vital for a strong U.S. economy and security.

As I stated in a column I wrote in 2014, after being asked, “What is the U.S. electric grid?,” there are three systems that provide electricity throughout the country. There is not a U.S. “power grid,” which is defined as an interconnected network for the delivery of electricity from suppliers to consumers.

The three grids in the contiguous 48 states are:

  1. The Texas system
  2. The Western system, which goes from the Pacific Ocean to the Rockies
  3. The Eastern system

As the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) states, “Transmission and distribution lines owned by an individual utility are no longer resources to be used only by that utility. Electrical systems have been expanded and interlinked. The systems now provide the associated transport of electricity on the transmission lines where buyers and sellers may be geographically spread apart.”

According to the EIA, “Originally, each generating company was responsible for maintaining its own electrical system safely and planning for the future needs of its customers. Later, voluntary standards were developed by the electric utility industry to coordinate for linked interconnection operations. These voluntary standards were instituted after a major blackout in 1965 that impacted New York, a large portion of the East Coast, and parts of Canada…the interlinked systems now include over 3,200 electric distribution utilities, over 10,000 generating units, tens of thousands of miles of transmission and distribution lines and millions of customers.”

Our national security has long been one of the most important assets we cherish. For that reason, we cannot afford to become addicted to energy at any cost. Today, nothing in America moves without energy, but the definition of energy security also extends to power generation.

We don’t have a good balance of power sources that can get us to our goal of total independence. We are still using many forms of energy. Although certain energy sectors are more predominant than others, there is definitely room for natural gas to grow.

Natural gas holds promise for power generation. The share of US natural gas-fired electricity generating capacity increased from 17 percent in 1990 to 43 percent in 2020. Given the enormous finds here, we should establish a more efficient, accessible natural gas transportation and distribution system.

In January of 2014, a warning went out that it was important that reduction of electric usage was needed in Texas (the Texas grid). The risk of power outages was strongly possible. According to an article by journalist Loren Steffy, “In January, power plants unexpectedly went offline when the state needed them most. This time blackouts were averted, but barely.” He goes on to state, “As the threat of rolling blackouts in winter and summer demonstrates, Texas isn’t producing enough electricity to meet our needs.”

It is time we come together! The U.S. has the immediate challenge of striving for energy independence. It is extremely important that the U.S. be in a strong position of securing energy reserves within its own boundaries and maintaining a dependable energy infrastructure.

America needs America’s energy! All forms. All American. Future generations are depending on us to keep the American dream alive! 

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Mark A. Stansberry, Chairman of The GTD Group, is an award-winning author, columnist, film and music producer, radio talk show host and 2009 Western Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductee. Stansberry has written five energy-related books. He has been active in the oil and gas industry for over 44 years, having served as CEO/President of Moore-Stansberry, Inc., and The Oklahoma Royalty Company. He has served as Chairman of the Board of Regents of the Regional University System of Oklahoma, Chairman 2016-2017 of the Gaylord-Pickens Museum/Oklahoma Hall of Fame Board of Directors, Lifetime Trustee of Oklahoma Christian University, and Board Emeritus of the Oklahoma Governor’s International Team. He has served on several public and private boards. 

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