Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Study indicates that Wyoming needs transmission and new flexible gas-fired generation to realize its wind potential

On November 9th, Black & Veatch presented a study to the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority (WIA) finding that in order to take advantage of its tremendous wind potential, Wyoming needs transmission and new flexible gas-fired baseload generation. The study also indicates that new flexible gas-fired generation could be economically located in Wyoming due to the state's Shale Gas reserves.

Wyoming is already an energy exporting state because in-state coal generation exceeds its load requirements and its export capability could be increased with wind development. The Western Renewable Energy Zone (WREZ) study indicated that 25,000 MW of wind generation could be economically built in Wyoming. Developers are proposing extra high voltage transmission projects to support this anticipated wind development. These proposed projects include the High Plains Express, the Wyoming-Colorado Intertie, TransWest Express, Gateway South, Gateway West, Zephyr and Overland and anticipate a total potential capacity of approximately 18,000 MW. The future of these projects, however, depends on the ability to deliver energy generated in-state to out-of-state markets.

While the Black & Veatch study emphasizes the need for transmission, the study did not address another key element necessary for transmission development: regional cost recovery and cost allocation mechanisms for transmission projects in the Western Interconnection. The study is posted on the WIA website.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Solar Energy Industry Association Files Whitepaper with Comments to FERC NOPR in Support of Planning, Siting and Cost Recovery for Transmission Projects in the Southwest

On June 17, 2010, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) initiated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to correct deficiencies in current transmission planning and cost allocation processes. On November 12, 2010, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) submitted reply comments to the FERC NOPR. In their comments, SEIA emphasized that "the current disaggregated planning process in the West creates uncertainty and stymies development of transmission" and provides an analysis of the issues in the whitepaper attached to their comments entitled, "Removing Transmission Barriers to Solar Energy Development in the Southwest." SEIA Reply Comments, Docket No. RM10-23-000, pg. 4.

The existing grid was designed around baseload generation facilities that were built close to load centers. Long distance transmission was generally designed to carry power generated from coal, nuclear and hydro power generation facilities and there was little extra capacity designed into the system. More capacity is needed to support integration of renewable generation and transmission needs to be designed to coordinate remote resources with the energy load centers that need the power. In addition, the intermittency of renewable resources can be minimized across a geographic region. Thus, transmission planning is regional.

SEIA provides that the following steps are necessary to enable utility-scale solar development:

1. "Transmission planning must be done on a regional level." Energy development across a multi-state region should be coordinated.

2. The disconnect between transmission planning processes and commercial-scale energy development must be addressed in order to facilitate energy development in the short term. "Planning, permitting and construction of foundational transmission lines must be achieved by 2014."

3. A multi-jurisdictional and multi-stakeholder approach should be used to address seams issues.

4. "Planning cannot be done in geographic or jurisdictional isolation. Each of these entities has a role to play (in siting, transmission study, grid management, and cost recovery) and must do their part to ensure timely development of renewable generation."

5. "A regional planning process must prioritize the planning, permitting, cost allocation and construction of key foundational lines."

SEIA concludes that the renewable energy industry is being hurt by the lack of coordinated planning, siting and cost allocation for regional transmission projects in the southwest. The SEIA whitepaper can be found under FERC Docket No. RM10-23-000.