Tag Archives: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

Amid a massive American clean energy shift, grid operators play catch-up

Creative Commons article by Robert Zullo
Republished by The Nebraska Examiner

For the better part of the past century, the American electric power system evolved around large, mostly fossil fuel power plants delivering electricity to residences, businesses and industry through a network of transmission and distribution wires that collectively came to be called the electric grid.

But as the threat of climate change driven by carbon pollution becomes more dire and as technological advances make wind, solar and battery storage ever cheaper options for powering homes and business, states, corporations and voters are increasingly pushing to aggressively decarbonize the grid. Continue reading here.

Robert Zullo is a national energy reporter based in southern Illinois, focusing on renewable power and the electric grid. Robert joined States Newsroom in 2018 as the founding editor of the Virginia Mercury. Before that, he spent 13 years as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. He has a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey.

Image: A map of grid operators’ territories. Source: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

MISO board approves $10.3B transmission plan to support 53 GW of renewables

By Ethan Howland, Utility Dive

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s board on Monday approved a $10.3 billion transmission plan that could support about 53 GW of wind, solar, hybrid and stand-alone battery projects found in state and utility clean energy goals in its northern and central regions.

While the projects were designed to maintain grid reliability amid a changing generation mix, MISO estimates that it will bring $23.2 billion to $52.2 billion in present value net benefits over 40 years, including up to $19.9 billion in congestion and fuel cost savings, according to a presentation by Aubrey Johnson, MISO vice president of system planning and competitive transmission. Next …. Continue reading here.

Upcoming Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Webinar

What Do Regional Transmission Organizations Do?, With Casey Cathey, Director of System Planning at Southwest Power Pool, August 17, 2022 at 10 a.m. This seminar will cover a variety of responsibilities of the Southwest Power Pool Regional Transmission Organization, such as transmission planning, resource adequacy, operations, and energy markets. Register here 

Questions? Please contact John Hansen, Conference Chair: john@nebraskafarmersunion.org, 402-580-8815 or Anita Scheuler, Conference Administrator: admin@nebraskawsc.com, 402-304-2790.

MidAmerican Energy News Releases

Solar ITC Extension

EV News – Utility Dive 

FERC Proposes Interconnection Reforms to Address Queue Backlogs

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission News Release, June 16, 2022

FERC today issued a proposed rule focused on expediting the current process for connecting new electric generation facilities to the grid. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) aims to address significant current backlogs in the interconnection queues by improving interconnection procedures, providing greater certainty and preventing undue discrimination against new generation. 

At the end of 2021, there were more than 1,400 gigawatts of generation and storage waiting in interconnection queues throughout the country. This is more than triple the total volume just five years ago. Projects now face an average timeline of more than three years to get connected to the grid. As the resource mix rapidly changes, the Commission’s policies must keep pace. Today’s NOPR proposes reforms to ensure that interconnection customers can access the grid in a reliable, efficient, transparent and timely manner. Continue reading here.

ACP & SEIA News Releases

SEIA News Release: Interconnection Whitepaper Details Near Term Reforms Needed to Extricate Hundreds of Gigawatts of Solar Power

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released a whitepaper detailing the extensive interconnection reforms needed to rapidly decarbonize the electricity grid. Across the country state and federal leaders are doubling down on their clean energy goals, but distribution utilities and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) are struggling to keep up with overflowing interconnection queues.

The new whitepaper, Lessons from the Front Line: Principles and Recommendations for Large-scale and Distributed Energy Interconnection Reforms, discusses the various opportunities utilities and regulators have to standardize, automate, and clarify interconnection procedures and policies. On June 16 FERC is expected to publish a proposed rule that will cover many of the same topics raised in this whitepaper. Read the entire news release.

 Additional Recommended Reading 

Solar Industry Launches Nonprofit to Alleviate Clean Energy Roadblocks

SEIA News Release

While the organization will focus on a variety of issues, one emerging challenge in the solar industry is land use. Siting clean energy projects requires community engagement and long-term planning that minimizes impact to the environment and surrounding community. These projects must also account for access to transmission lines, upgrades to grid infrastructure, and several other factors that can affect the outcome of a large-scale solar project. SI2’s first research project will create best practices for solar companies looking to create large-scale solar projects and other resources that will help the industry navigate these challenges. Read more here. 

To learn more about the new nonprofit, visit Solar and Storage Industries Institute (SI2): www.ssii.org 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING  

NFS Note: As the Energy Information Association (EIA) data show, Nebraska and Iowa continue to lag behind most states on Solar as a Percentage of Total Generation (SPG): Nebraska 0.17% / Iowa 0.47%. Both states, however, are national leaders on Solar + Wind as a percentage of Total Generation (SWPG): Nebraska – 31.22% / Iowa – 67% (currently #1).

FROM THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

Lincoln officials announce new electric vehicle infrastructure plan

By Nolan Dorn, KLKN TV

LINCOLN, Neb. (KLKN) – Lincoln officials announced a new initiative on Thursday that is aimed at helping reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Lancaster County. The main goal of the Electric Vehicle Readiness Plan is to help the city become more electric-car friendly.  It will create the infrastructure needed for those electric vehicles. Leaders across the county hope that this plan will help people use renewable resources and move away from fossil fuels. Continue reading here.

OMAHA

Saving Planet Omaha: City Takes First Steps toward A Greener Future, But Challenges Remain, by Regan Thomas, The Reader

To date, 417 cities, including 35 of the 50 largest, have some form of plan to address adverse weather effects. Today, about one in three Americans live in a place that has a Climate Action Plan.

For Omaha to catch up to other cities like Des Moines, Lincoln and even Crete, which all have or have started a Climate Action Plan, city officials need to work effectively, said Craig Moody, managing principal at Verdis Group, a sustainability and climate planning consultancy in Omaha. Moody’s organization has long helped cities like Lincoln build their own plans, and one week after last August’s flash foods, Moody published a blog giving cities a how-to guide for “one of the most important things a community can do to accelerate climate action,” saying these documents are meant to be used, not sit on a shelf.

Additional Recommended Reading: For Earth Day, key facts about Americans’ views of climate change and renewable energy, Pew Research Center

NEW ENVIRONMENT AMERICA REPORT

Shining Cities 2022: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy,
Environment America Research & Policy Center

Solar power continues to expand rapidly. The United States now has 121.4 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, producing enough solar energy to power more than 23 million homes. Millions of Americans have invested in solar energy and millions more are ready to join them.

America’s major cities have played a key role in the clean energy revolution and stand to reap tremendous benefits from solar energy. As population centers, they are major sources of electricity demand and, with millions of solar rooftops, they can be major sources of clean energy production as well.

Additional Recommended Reading: From Earth Day 1970 to 2022: A story of progress 
The rise of solar power since the first Earth Day is just one example of how far we’ve come.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

‘I think we have a wake-up call right now’ — FERC’s Phillips touts transmission’s reliability benefit

By Larry Pearl, Senior Editor, Utility Dive


There is “a clear need for substantial transmission build-out to accommodate new generation,” [FERC Commissioner] Phillips said while highlighting the ambitious renewable energy goals around the country.

“In order to get these necessary transmission projects financed, we must address the continuing barriers to regional and interregional transmission investment,” he added. Read more here.


RELATED READING

Grid operators’ ‘seam’ study paves way for renewable expansion, E&E News

The study identified seven transmission projects along the MISO-SPP boundary that would cost $1.65 billion and enable 28 gigawatts of new generation capacity — and perhaps as much as 53 GW — across MISO and SPP combined. The latter estimate, based on modeling by SPP, would roughly double the combined wind and solar capacity that currently exists in the two regions.

NEW AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION INITIATIVE

Clean Power Industry Commits to Initiative for Energy Transition that Benefits Workers, Communities, and Those Historically Left Behind

WASHINGTON DC, March 23, 2022 – The American Clean Power Association (ACP), on behalf of its over 700 member companies, today announced its Energy Transition for All initiative – an industry-wide framework to ensure that workers, communities, and those historically left behind stand to benefit from the rapid growth of the clean power sector in the United States. The initiative was launched today with the release of a report containing an outline of multi-year industry objectives to realize those goals.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

NEW AT OPPD & LES: TRADE ALLY PROGRAMS

Ohio regulators approve Union County solar farm with construction to start this year

By Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch

State regulators have approved a 325-megawatt solar farm to be built in Union County, the second to be approved for Union County in recent months. AEUG Union Solar is slotted to begin construction this year on a project that will take up 2,013 acres within a 3,355-acre project area in Washington and York townships, according to the Ohio Power Siting Board, which approved the project Thursday. Regulators approved Cadence Solar Energy project last fall to be built in York, Liberty and Taylor townships. The two are among nearly 50 solar projects in some stage of development in Ohio amid a surge in interest in renewable energy. Read more here.

MORE MIDWEST / NEBRASKA NEWS

LOUISIANA’S CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

Louisiana Task Force Approves State’s First-Ever Climate Acton Plan, American Public Power Association 

A Louisiana task force has approved and presented to the state’s governor a Climate Action Plan that would set a goal of achieving zero net greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.

The Climate Action Plan recently unanimously approved by Gov. John Bel Edwards’ Climate Initiatives Task Force has three priority policy pillars: renewable electricity generation, industrial electrification, and industrial fuel switching to low- and no-carbon hydrogen.

BUILD BACK BETTER

NEW FERC POLICY 

FERC expands criteria for reviewing gas infrastructure proposals, outlines GHG framework, by Ethan Howland, Utility Dive

In past practice, FERC judged whether a pipeline was needed solely by whether it had contracts for its supply. The agency will now consider other factors such as demand projections, estimated capacity utilization rates, potential cost savings to customers, and statements from state regulatory commissions or local distribution companies, according to agency staff. FERC will also consider how gas infrastructure could affect the applicant’s existing customers; the interests of existing pipelines and their customers; environmental interests; and, the interests of landowners and surrounding communities, including environmental justice communities, staff said during the meeting.

NEW ENVIRONMENT AMERICA REPORT

Rooftop solar and the 2021 Texas power crisis: Exploring small-scale solar’s potential to improve grid resilience during a deep freeze event. Released by Environment America Research & Policy Center, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group

Taking advantage of the nation’s vast rooftop solar potential would not only help build a more reliable grid, but also reduce other environmental and public health impacts of our current energy system. Download Report (PDF)
More Environment America Reports 

ACP REPORT

Clean Energy in America Reaches Milestone in 2021, But Installation Pace Must Accelerate to Reach Emissions Goals, American Clean Power Association News Release

While clean energy capacity passed the major milestone of 200 gigawatts (GW) – enough to support the energy needs of almost 2 out of every 5 American homes – the pace of clean energy installation risks hitting a plateau, with significant project delays due to supply chain bottlenecks and policy headwinds.

Clean Power Nebraska (PDF), ACP Resource

Illinois Renewable Energy Growth Surges in the Months After Climate and Equitable Jobs Act Signed

Solar Energy Industries Association News Release

CHICAGO and WASHINGTON, D.C. — Five months after the passage of Illinois’ landmark clean energy law, solar businesses have installed enough renewable energy to power 30,000 homes and are building a more diverse workforce with the help of job training programs. Data collected by the solar industry found 2022 is on track to be one of the biggest years for solar energy in Illinois’ history. The renewable energy industry plans to complete more than 8,400 additional solar installations and increase its workforce by nearly 50% in 2022. Continue reading here.

Also In The News

DOE leverages new and existing authorities to spur transmission development key to energy transition

By Ethan Howland, Senior Reporter, Utility Dive

The Department of Energy has developed a plan for reducing barriers to high-voltage transmission projects that includes public-private partnerships, permitting and planning support, and about $20 billion in financing. The move comes as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, another key player in the transmission arena, is preparing to propose changes to its rules for transmission planning, determining who pays for the infrastucture and connecting power facilities to the grid. Continue reading here.

Department of Energy News Release: DOE Launches New Initiative From President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law To Modernize National Grid

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

Previously Posted

NFS Note: SB 1024 is working its way through the Florida Legislature’s Regulated Industries committee.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Myth of the Solar “Cost Shift” and the True Value of Solar (PDF), Solar United Neighbors

Monopoly electric utilities are waging a well-documented campaign against rooftop solar. They see it as a threat to their outmoded business model of selling more and more electricity in order to increase their profits. They are lobbying across the country to make it more expensive and difficult for people to go solar. The utilities’ primary claim is that non-solar customers are subsidizing solar owners. They describe this using the terms “cost-shift” or “cross-subsidization.” Their logic goes like this: