Tag Archives: Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs)

Western U.S. grid plan could remake renewables

By Edward Klump, E&E News

Bruce Rew, senior vice president of operations at SPP, said the expanded RTO footprint could utilize several grid connections that run from the Western Interconnection to the Eastern Interconnection. The connections are in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Additional connections could be considered later. SPP’s bid to tie the nation’s main Eastern and Western grid networks together would be a first among existing RTOs. “I think it’s a very significant change in terms of how the electric grid is [operated] and what the potential benefits that closer operation between the Western Interconnection and Eastern Interconnection can provide,” Rew said. Read more here.

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

GREEN HYDROGEN

Promoting energy innovation and U.S. jobs through a Green Hydrogen Production Tax Credit, Next Era Energy

To meet the U.S. national climate goal of cutting emissions 50% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, as well as the Biden administration’s 2050 net-zero emissions goal, the U.S. will need to scale a range of new clean energy technologies. While proven technologies such as renewable generation and energy efficiency can drive a significant share of the greenhouse gas emission reductions necessary to achieve the U.S. climate target, new technologies are needed to address the remaining hard-to-decarbonize sectors that are important drivers of economic growth in the U.S., such as industry and heavy-duty transportation. Promoting U.S. innovation and competitiveness will require incentives to scale these emerging technologies. One such emerging technology is green hydrogen, which is well-placed to help the U.S. address a range of hard-to-decarbonize sectors.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

TIPS FOR SAVING ENERGY & MONEY PROVIDED BY OUR LARGEST UTILITIES

State energy plans show how process can match final product in impact

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

This winter, lawmakers in two Plains states are backing bills calling for a similar process. In Nebraska, state Sen. John Cavanaugh has proposed spending $250,000 on a climate action plan that would be produced by the University of Nebraska. In Kansas, state Rep. Mark Schreiber is preparing a bill to form a task force to provide “strategic guidance and objectives” for energy in the state.

The vast majority of states already have a climate or energy plan. According to the National Association of State Energy Officials, all but eight — including Kansas, Illinois and Wisconsin — have drafted a state energy plan. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions says 33 states have released or are developing a climate action plan. Read more here.

LB 483: Provide for a climate change study and action plan

Previously Posted 

  • Nebraska needs overall plan for energy policies, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2015
    Nebraska’s Energy Office director says the state needs a comprehensive approach to its energy policies as it faces what could be a “seismic” change in federal regulations governing emissions. David Bracht, Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief adviser on energy issues, talked about state energy policies Wednesday at the eighth annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Omaha. . . .
    [The]
    Nebraska Legislature has instructed the state Energy Office to create a comprehensive energy plan and budgeted more than $630,000 to see it done.
    LB469 Provide procedures and reporting requirements relating to a state plan on carbon dioxide emissions, require a strategic state energy plan, and provide requirements for meteorological evaluation towers.
  • 2011 Nebraska Energy Plan, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

ALSO IN THE NEWS

  • Masdar Achieves First Close on 1.6 GW Clean Energy Portfolio in United States from EDF Renewables, EDF Renewables News Release. The Abu Dhabi-based renewable energy company said the U.S. offers “considerable scope for further growth.” Power from the diversified portfolio projects will be sold under long-term contracts to a variety of offtakers, including utilities, hedge providers and community choice aggregators (CCAs). The 300MW Milligan 1 Wind Farm in Saline County, Nebraska is included in the portfolio.
  • Wadena now powered by 100% carbon-free electricity, Wadena Pioneer Journal
    Harnessing the winds on the open plains of Nebraska or the sun in Iowa tends to provide more bang for the buck than the dark winters up in the woods of northern Minnesota. This article includes a brief video about renewable energy certificates (RECs).

ENERGY STORAGE

EV NEWS

Wind Energy Tops Coal, Natural Gas in Southwest Power Pool

By Michael Bates, North American Windpower

In 2020, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a regional transmission organization, became the first grid operator to have wind as its number-one fuel source – outpacing the integration of coal and natural gas. “Maintaining reliability with this large amount of wind is extraordinary,” says Barbara Sugg, president and CEO of SPP. Read more here.

Image Credit: Nebraska Public Power District

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

AI & MORE EFFICIENT SOLAR POWER PLANTS 

Making solar power more efficient, Case Western Reserve University News Release, Newswise
CLEVELAND–Case Western Reserve University computer scientists and energy technology experts are teaming up to leverage the diagnostic power of artificial intelligence (AI) to make solar-power plants more efficient. The work, funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is part of a broad $130 million solar-technologies initiative announced by the DOE in 2020—including $7.3 million specifically for machine-learning solutions and other AI for solar applications. 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Biden administration will replace the entire federal vehicle fleet with EVs, CNET

The current federal vehicle fleet is estimated at
around 645,000 vehicles, and President Biden plans to replace all of them with American-made electric vehicles. The American-made part of this is essential because the announcement was part of Biden’s “Made In America” executive order, which is set to redirect a sizable portion of the government’s spending to American businesses and on American-made products.

Nebraska’s Largest Utilities’ EV Programs & Incentives
Interested in purchasing an electric vehicle or charger? Click a link, below, if you are a customer of one of Nebraska’s largest utilities and want to learn more about their EV programs and incentives, or check your local utility’s website for any available resources.

Many States Lead on Energy Efficiency; More Needed

By Lara Ettenson, Natural Resources Defense Council

The annual American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) analysis shows several states adopted energy-saving targets and vehicle or appliance rules last year that will lay the groundwork to scale up efficiency programs, such as insulating buildings or replacing energy-guzzling appliances. However, while some states are making progress, the scorecard also shows there is still much work to do to ensure that the investment in—and benefits of—efficiency are distributed equitably. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

HYBRID PROJECT A FIRST WITHIN SOUTHWEST POWER POOL AREA

A greener, rural-Oklahoma energy grid is generating jobs by the hundreds and revenues by the millions, The Oklahoman

Energy flowing across Oklahoma’s transmission grid turned greener this week. On Wednesday, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative and NextEra Energy Resources flipped a switch activating the first phase of power generation from Skeleton Creek. The Skeleton Creek Project’s combination of wind, solar and energy storage was the first project of its type announced by developers within the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) 546,000 square mile operational area. 

About Southwest Power Pool
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is a regional transmission organization (RTO): a nonprofit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. SPP oversees the bulk electric grid and wholesale power market in the central United States on behalf of a diverse group of utilities and transmission companies in 17 states, [including Nebraska].

Previously Posted

 OHIO’S SOLAR BOOM

Inside Clean Energy: The Solar Boom Arrives in Ohio, by Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News
Right now, Ohio has barely 100 megawatts of utility-scale solar power. By this time next year, it is likely to have more than 400 megawatts. And if every project that has filed papers with state regulators gets built, the total would exceed 5,000 megawatts by the mid-2020s. So what’s going on here?

Renewables on Tribal Land: Addressing Environmental and Economic Equity on the Path to a Clean Energy Economy

National Law Review article by Bart J. Freedman, Teresa A. Hill,
Benjamin A Mayer, K&L Gates LLP

Demand for renewable energy projects has never been greater. The newest, latest trend is the push for renewable energy projects with positive social impacts and benefits to marginalized communities. Indeed, some of the most significant consumers and supporters of renewable and carbon-free power are now making environmental and economic justice a central focus and condition of their use of and investments in clean energy projects. Utility leaders have identified racial justice as a top concern in the transition to a clean energy economy. Key stakeholders and influential civil rights organizations, including the NAACP, have created toolkits and are advocating for just energy policies and practices. The Rocky Mountain Institute announced this summer that it will be launching a residential solar program to expand the use of solar in communities of color. At the same time, clean energy transition legislation throughout the country is accelerating the need for carbon-free resources, including wind, solar, and storage projects, to replace traditional fossil fuel resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, to power the grid. Continue reading here. 

Photo Credit: The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED GREEN BIZ WEBINAR

Embedding Social and Environmental Benefits in Renewable Energy, October 15, 2020 at 12 pm
Renewable energy deployments are on the rise. The U.S. alone is expected to add 132 to 157GW of new renewable energy capacity in the next five years. How and where that renewable energy is deployed can drive radically different outcomes — with the potential to maximize positive impact for a range of stakeholders or limit benefits to just a few. 

Moderator
Sarah Golden, Senior Energy Analyst & VERGE Energy Chair, GreenBiz

Speakers

  • Megan Lorenzen, Sustainability Manager, Salesforce
  • Bruce McKenney, Director for Strategic Initiatives, Energy & Infrastructure, The Nature Conservancy 
  • Henry Richardson, Senior Analyst, WattTime.org
  • Alex Klonick, Manager, REBA

CLEAN TECHNICA REPORT

  • Top Solar Power States Per Capita, by Zachary Shahan
    As you can see, the top solar power state per capita is probably not the one that came to mind for almost all of you. Would I have guessed that it would be Nevada? Nope. In fact, Nevada is so far in the lead that it has more than double the amount of solar power installed per capita as #6 Vermont, and nearly double the results for #5 North Carolina. That said, the top 5 states are certainly states that lead for solar in a variety of ways. Nevada, Hawaii, California, Arizona, and North Carolina all have great solar resources, and they have policies that provide just enough incentive for large corporations, utilities, small businesses, and homeowners to go solar.
  • Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy 

MORE ON NEBRASKA’S PLUM CREEK WIND FARM

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY ENERGY’S ROCKY MOUNTAIN POWER IN THE NEWS

Wyoming, Utility Clash Over Coal-Boosting, Climate Fighting Tech, Bloomberg Law
Coal-dependent Wyoming, aided by a Trump administration study, is arguing for extending the life of the state’s coal-fired power plants and others across the country by retrofitting old plants with technology that would capture and either store or use climate-warming carbon dioxide emissions. But Rocky Mountain Power, a subsidiary of PacifiCorp, wants to retire several of its aging coal-generation plants in Wyoming ahead of schedule and invest roughly $4 billion in new wind energy, transmission, and battery storage projects in the state. And environmental groups favor that plan, rather than extending the life of coal plants.

COLORADO

  • Why Colorado needs an RTO, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
    On a September morning in which smoke was wafting eastward across the Great Plains from the wildfires in the Rocky Mountains and the West Coast, I sat in a cabin near Nebraska’s Lake McConaughy to hear representatives of Colorado’s two largest electrical utilities and one state legislator explain how they thought Colorado might get an RTO or its close relative, an ISO. The former once again stands for regional transmission organization, and the latter an independent system operator. The function in both cases is much the same. These organizations pool electrical generation resources and also consolidate transmission.
  • Recommended reading about the Interconnection Seams Study, which Allen Best references in the above article: How a Plan to Save the Power System Disappeared, The Atlantic and Investigate West
  • Also Written by Allen Best: Colorado utilities fear wildfire risk — and liability — amid warming climate, Energy News Network
  • Solar-powered steel production from Lightsource bp’s Bighorn Project in Colorado, PV Magazine
    The iron and steel sector is the “world’s largest industrial source of climate pollution.” This steel mill in Pueblo, Colorado will be the first in North America to rely on solar power.

GLOBAL ENERGY STORAGE

Global storage heading to 741 GWh by 2030, WoodMac projects, amid ongoing challenges, Utility Dive

Global energy storage capacity could amount to 741 GWh by the end of the decade, representing a 31% compound annual growth rate, analysis from Wood Mackenzie has found — and the U.S. could make up nearly half of that.

‘Game-Changer’ FERC Order Opens Up Wholesale Grid Markets to Distributed Energy Resources

By Jeff St. John, Senior Editor, Greentech Media

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) passed Order 2222, which is intended to allow small distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar and behind-the-meter batteries, to participate in energy, capacity, and ancillary services markets operated by regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs).

RTOs and ISOs oversee the transmission grids serving electricity to two-thirds of the country. Much of the impact of the order will depend on how market rules are designed to incorporate distributed resources, which are predicted to reach 380 gigawatts of installed capacity across the country’s grid by 2025. RTOs and ISOs will have 270 days to file implementation compliance plans after Order 2222 goes into effect in 60 days. Read more here.

MORE ON ORDER 2222

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SOLSMART

Since 2016, SolSmart has provided in-depth technical assistance to hundreds of local governments nationwide and has awarded over 370 cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations with SolSmart designations for their solar achievements. If you are interested in becoming a SolSmart community, click one of these links: 

Request A Consultation
Apply For Designation 

U.S. AIRPORTS ADOPTING SOLAR

CU Denver Researcher Analyzes the Use of Solar Energy at U.S. Airports, CU Denver News
By studying 488 public airports in the United States, University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs researcher Serena Kim, PhD, found that 20% of them have adopted solar photovoltaic (PV), commonly known as solar panels, over the last decade. Solar photovoltaic (PV) is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. 

NET-ZERO GLOBAL ECONOMY

Net Zero by 2050 Is Achievable, Affordable, and Will Improve Lives, Rocky Mountain Institute
A net-zero global economy is technically and economically possible by the middle of this century. The technologies and business solutions needed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero are already available or close to being brought to market. That is the encouraging conclusion of the latest report, Making Mission Possible, by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC).

As Xcel moves toward coal-free, will natural gas remain part of energy mix?

By Kirsti Marohn, Minnesota Public Radio

“We’re concerned that natural gas plants that are being built today are very likely to be too expensive to make sense to operate before they’re even paid off,” said Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota, which advocates on behalf of electric ratepayers. Levenson-Falk pointed to a recent report from the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute that found that 90 percent of the gas plants being built today will be uneconomical by 2035 — around the time Xcel’s proposed Becker plant would likely be in operation. The company’s plans say it would build the new natural gas plant in the mid-2020s. Read more here.

NON-WIRES ALTERNATIVES

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GLOBAL DIVESTMENT / REINVESTMENT 

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Photo Credit: Xcel Energy

Report: Kansas Utilities Run Coal Plants Year-Round Even Though It Costs Ratepayers Millions

By Brian Grimmett, KMUW, Wichita’s NPR Station

The way Westar Energy runs its coal plants in Kansas unnecessarily costs consumers millions of dollars a year through an obscure, if common, practice known as self-committing generation. The company essentially runs its coal plants year-round, even during the winter months when it’s not cost-effective. An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which advocates for reduced reliance on coal, says that’s been costing Westar customers $20 million a year in added fuel costs.

But market operators including the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) — Westar buys and sells wholesale electricity through the organization — worry that the practice hurts the market. Regulators in Missouri, where Westar’s parent company Evergy is headquartered, have opened up an investigation to see if it’s unfairly costing consumers. Continue reading here.

Photo: Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has been studying self-committing or self-scheduling generation in power markets for years. Daniel recently completed an analysis screening of every coal-fired power plant that operates in the Southwest Power Pool (Nebraska’s Regional Transmission Organization) and other RTOs. He describes the analysis in an interview included in the following article on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ blog:

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets
Markets are supposed to ensure that all power plants are operated from lowest cost to most expensive. Self-committing allows expensive coal plants to cut in line, pushing out less expensive power generators such as wind, depriving those units from operating and generating revenue.
– Joseph Daniel

Additional Recommended Reading

R-Project News & Website Link

Advocates seek bigger role from large companies on grid planning

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Wind Solar Alliance, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that advocates for renewable energy, says while American companies and other large customers have expressed a wish for lots of renewable power, and while lots of wind projects are planned to fulfill those wishes, there is a shortage of power lines to get the electricity where it needs to be. A solution, according to Kevin O’Rourke, the director of public affairs for the Alliance, is for corporate customers to lobby their regional transmission organizations (RTOs) to plan transmission lines that will allow corporate customers to move towards renewable generation. Read more here.

Wind Solar Alliance
Campaigns
A Renewable America Grid Campaign
A Renewable America Jobs Tour
Electric Nation Powered By Wind

MORE NATIONAL NEWS

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

NEW U.S. AIR FORCE SOLAR PROJECTS

Report: Companies Leading The Renewable Energy Buying Revolution Should Participate In The Transmission Planning Processes

Wind Solar Alliance News Release

The report, Corporate Renewable Procurement and Transmission Planning: Communicating Demand to RTOs May Yield More Low-cost Options, points out that more than 100 U.S. corporate
buyers — members of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance — have set a goal of purchasing 60 gigawatts of new U.S. renewable energy capacity by 2025. So far, since 2013, the companies have procured just over 13 gigawatts of renewable power. The report outlines actions major buyers of renewable energy can take to make sure renewable power is accessible when they need it. Read the entire news release here.

About Wind Solar Alliance
Wind Solar Alliance (WSA) was launched by wind energy leaders in 2010 as the Wind Energy Foundation. In 2014, the organization launched its A Renewable America campaign in partnership with leaders from the wind and solar industries. In October 2018, after five years of successfully leading a wind-solar collaboration and recruiting several new solar industry leaders to its board of directors, the organization renamed itself the Wind Solar Alliance. The new name reflects the emerging consensus that:

  • The wind and solar sectors have a wide array of policy needs and opportunities and these will continue to grow over time;
  • The two sectors are stronger when acting together on this shared agenda than when acting apart; and
  • Given recent cost declines and technological innovation, the rapid deployment of utility-scale wind and solar represents one of the most promising solutions to climate change.