Southern, Duke, PJM and others call for more transmission and coordination to manage the rise of renewables
Managers and planners of the East Interconnection network including Southern Co., Duke Energy and PJM Interconnection called for more transmission and coordination to help meet renewable energy goals in a white paper released on Tuesday.
Large amounts of renewable energy make the grid more complex to operate compared to traditional power plants and complicate the transportation planning process, the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC) said in the white paper, Planning the network for a renewable future.
Reforms in transportation planning, cost allocation and facility siting can overcome these challenges, according to the collaboration, which consists of 19 network managers and planners like the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Tennessee Valley Authority.
The report from the grid planning collaboration fuels a growing debate over how best to spur transportation development to support the state’s clean energy goals and the Biden administration’s goal of bringing the United States on the path to zero-emission electricity by 2035.
The budget reconciliation bill in the House of Representatives includes tax credits for transport development. In addition, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is in the early stages of a possible the overhaul of its transport planning rules.
Even without the administration’s efforts, wind and solar projects were about 90% of the record 755 GW of generation capacity seeking to connect to the U.S. electricity grid at the end of last year, according to a report released in May by the Lawrence Berkeley National laboratory.
Amid these developments, the EIPC report aims to help policymakers understand the challenges grid operators face as more renewable facilities come online.
For example, noting a major obstacle to meeting clean energy goals, the EIPC warned that it could take more than a decade to plan, locate and build major transmission lines.
“Current processes exist to allocate costs and site transmission, but as the quantity, size and complexity of new transmission infrastructure increases, these processes are increasingly challenged in some areas,” he said. declared the EIPC. “Siting issues have often caused otherwise beneficial projects to fail before construction.”
There needs to be more coordination between regulators at the transport site, which may include issues of property rights, land use, and environmental and social justice, EIPC said.
In addition, FERC and state regulators are expected to work together to design a new process for deciding who pays for power lines, the group said.
According to Michael Goggin, vice president of Grid Strategies, a consulting firm specializing in transmission issues, EIPC’s comments on the challenges of transportation planning, cost allocation and implementation are “on square “.
“There must be substantial political reform in the three [issues] if we’re going to cost-effectively integrate the amount of renewable capacity we’re trying to have, ”Goggin said.
The Texas Competitive Renewable Energy Zones initiative and MISO Multi-value projects show that with coordinated transmission planning and a broad cost allocation, transmission lines can be built, according to Goggin.
“I think regions recognize that something needs to change, states recognize that the current system is broken, and therefore I think it will take joint action between states, regions and FERC to re-implement these policies. that we know how to work, ”Goggin said. noted.
The Eastern Interconnection covers approximately two-thirds of North America.
“Given the size and significant diversity within the interconnect, the insight among planning coordinators provides a solid vision for planning the transportation network of the future,” said Keith Daniel, senior vice president of Georgia Transmission for Transmission Policy and Chairman of the EIPC Executive Committee. in a report.