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SPP and MISO identify 7 cross-transmission projects that could unlock 81 GW of next-gen

By on February 2, 2022 0

Diving Brief:

  • The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) have identified seven possible transmission projects across their shared border that could allow 81 GW of potential generating capacity to interconnect to the grid.

  • The transmission projects, costing around $1.8 billion, would ease transmission constraints that prevent potential wind, solar and other projects along the seam of grid operators from being able to come online, according to a draft study released last week by network operators.

  • The “first of its kind” study could become a model for transmission planning, according to Natalie McIntire, technical and policy consultant for Clean Grid Alliance, a renewable energy advocacy group. “He tried to look for lower cost solutions that provided benefits in solving a wide range of transmission problems,” McIntire said.

Overview of the dive:

The SPP-MISO initiative was born out of a problem plaguing network operators across the country: interconnect queues congested with hundreds of requests from businesses seeking to connect next-generation sources to the network. .

It is increasingly difficult to interconnect such generation – mainly low-cost renewables in areas far from customer load centers – along the border between SPP and MISO which runs roughly west from Minnesota to northwest Louisiana, according to the study project, released on January 27.

In response, SPP and MISO launched the Joint Study of Targeted Interconnect Queues in 2020 to see if a new transmission could relieve grid congestion to allow potential wind farms and other generation resources to come online.

The study took a novel approach of determining whether the transmission needed to unlock production interconnect queues could also provide economic and reliability benefits to transmission customers, SPP and MISO said in the draft. ‘study.

The system operators estimate that their recommended portfolio of 345 kV projects would save customers $724.2 million and $246.7 million on “adjusted generation costs” in the MISO and SPP footprints, respectively, producing a benefit-cost ratio of 0.56, indicating the electricity cost savings would be about half the cost of the projects.

The portfolio could also enable up to 28 GW and 53 GW of generation capacity for interconnect customers in MISO and SPP, respectively, for near-seam projects, according to the report.

Potential transmission projects are in North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas, states rich in wind potential.

The network operators plan to publish a final report by February 10.

In a related process, SPP and MISO are working with stakeholders to develop a methodology for allocating the costs of transmission projects between producers and users of electricity.

Once the SPP and MISO Boards of Directors approve the cost allocation methodology, they will seek approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. They will also need to obtain approval to modify their joint operating agreements to reflect the cost allocation changes.

Overall, the initiative is “groundbreaking” and could be a model for transmission development elsewhere, according to McIntire, who works on transmission issues for the Clean Grid Alliance, which counts companies such as Pattern as members. Energy, Google and EDF Renewable Energy.

Typically, transmission planning studies look at a single issue, such as reliability, reducing congestion or interconnecting generators, McIntire said.

“I have never seen a study like this where two RTOs have come together to assess which transmission solutions can bring great benefits to the load and at the same time can help enable next-generation interconnection near the seam. “McIntire said.

Increasingly, when generators seek to interconnect in an RTO, “affected system” studies show that major transmission upgrades are needed in other grid operator footprints, said McIntire, noting that the phenomenon occurs along the MISO-PJM interconnecting seam.

These required upgrades “pretty clearly provide broader benefits than just interconnecting these new generators,” McIntire said.

The cost allocation portion of the initiative is also charting new territory, according to McIntire.

“We don’t have a cost allocation methodology in place that allows for this kind of sharing that says we have two really different types of recipients who should then share the cost of these upgrades,” McIntire said.

SPP and MISO can also consider other network benefits beyond cost savings when determining how to allocate construction expenditures for transmission projects, McIntire said, noting that transmission lines would also provide benefits in terms of of reliability.

If talks go well, grid managers could approve a new process for averaging power line costs by the end of the year, according to McIntire.

“I hope that [the SPP-MISO process] becomes a blueprint or an example of what can be done,” McIntire said. “This may just be the first of many studies that MISO and SPP are undertaking along their seams like this.”

A SPP official was unavailable to speak about the study project at press time, and a MISO spokesperson answered questions with reference to a presentation on the study.