On the Court and On the Grid - Attributes Matter
What March Madness teaches us about grid reliability.
Jay Hermacinski - 03/28/2024

March Madness is here! What better time is there to talk about basketball and …. electric grid attributes? (Rhetorical question).

MISO’s been talking about system attributes a lot. We published a special report in 2023 and we want the conversation, we need the conversation, to continue. If you are unsure why, take a look at our updated Reliability Imperative report. This is critical stuff.

Admittingly, understanding “attributes” in relation to the electric grid can be a little confusing. So in an effort to understand grid or “system attributes,” and seeing as we are in the middle of March Madness, let's first talk about what it takes to win the NCAA tournament.

We all know sports teams consist of individuals who bring different skills or qualities to the team. The sum of these qualities is greater than the parts. Winning teams have the right mix of skilled players. In basketball that means having a small forward who can score, defend, and create open lanes; a power forward who can rebound, set screens, and protect the rim; a point guard who can run the offense; a shooting guard who can score points; and a center who can take the close shots, rebound, and block opponent’s shots. No single position can do it all. Players with different skills (or attributes) must work together to win games.

It’s a similar deal on the electric grid. But instead of talking about player attributes, we talk about grid or "system attributes." These are the characteristics necessary to ensure reliability 24/7/365. MISO's Attributes Roadmap focuses on three attributes where risk for the MISO system is most acute:

  • System adequacy: the ability to meet electric load requirements during periods of high risk.
  • Flexibility: the extent to which a power system can adjust electric production or consumption in response to changing system conditions.
  • System stability: the ability to operate in a balanced state under normal conditions and to recover from disturbances.

Like individual players on the court, no single type of generation can do it all. Winning means delivering power reliably, affordably, and sustainably under all conditions. To do that, our team of generators, the generation fleet, must have the right attributes. 

It's part of our Reliability Imperative - the shared responsibility that MISO, its members, and states have to address the urgent and complex challenges facing electric reliability in the MISO region.