Ten years after the 2003 blackout that crippled much of the northeastern United States and Canada, NEMA has established two major programs that are focused on the technical and policy aspects of improving the performance of the electrical grid: the Emerging Technology Panel (ETP) and NEMA Strategic Initiatives (SI) program.

“It’s appropriate that the White House recently released its report, "Economic Benefits of Increasing Electric Grid Resilience to Weather Outages," says National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) President and CEO Evan R. Gaddis. “With a price tag that topped $60 billion in some estimates, it’s important that we re-examine the root causes and contributing factors of the 2003 blackout to ensure an event of that magnitude never happens again.”

ETP is a group of 20 chief technologists and senior scientists from NEMA membership. Meeting twice a year, ETP discusses major challenges faced by their utility and commercial customers to identify future directions that will be beneficial to the industry and consumers. In coordination with ETP, NEMA’s SI program tackles the technical and policy hurdles necessary to implement ETP’s vision. Smart Grid, high-performance buildings, energy storage, industrial energy efficiency, microgrids, and nanotechnology are all examples of past strategic initiatives.

“Our top-level strategy is simple,” says Senior Vice President of Operations Ric Talley. “We examine the technical barriers to implementation, move to identify standardized solutions to overcome them, and then promote those standards to regulators and legislators.”