Tag Archives: Southwest Power Pool (SPP)

NPPD cutting ribbon on new community solar facility

Nebraska Public Power District News Release


Columbus, Neb. – 
The time has come to celebrate the launch of a new community solar farm with the official ribbon cutting for the Scottsbluff II project. The new addition to the Scottsbluff community’s renewable energy portfolio is set to go live on March 1, with the ceremony scheduled for 2 p.m. March 2. “We are very excited to cut the ribbon and celebrate the official launch of Scottsbluff II,” says Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) Vice-President and Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “The Scottsbluff II project is a great partnership between the city of Scottsbluff – NPPD and N-Solar and these combined efforts are what made this project a reality.” The ceremony is set to take place in the Landers Memorial Soccer Complex parking lot at 4205 5th Avenue just outside the new solar facility. Continue reading here.

OPPD News

Structure rebuild completed in time for potential flooding, The Wire

Additional Recommended Reading   

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

Uneconomic coal plants cost Michigan ratepayers millions, analysts say

By Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

“The market dynamics have changed. This notion of running power plants all out, all year round no longer makes sense.” – Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Daniel also argues that coal plants should no longer be considered a “base load” resource.

Uneconomic coal plants have cost a Michigan utility’s customers tens of millions of dollars a year by running at times when cheaper resources are available, according to energy analysts. Three plants owned by DTE Energy in southeastern Michigan, in particular, lost $74 million in 2017, filings show in a rate case settled last year.

The practice is known as “self-scheduling” or “self-committing,” when utilities designate certain power plants to run regardless of the price grid operators are willing to pay for the electricity. Utility regulators in Minnesota and Missouri have opened dockets on the subject, while Wisconsin advocates are putting pressure on state regulators to examine the practice there. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Fermite1 / Wikimedia Commons: The Trenton power plant in Trenton, Michigan.

About Joseph Daniel

Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been studying self-committing or self-scheduling generation in power markets for years. Daniel 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 posted 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.

Previously Posted E&E Articles

IN KANSAS

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

IN NEBRASKA

At our state’s largest coal plant, the Gerald Gentleman Station, and all across Nebraska, renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost-effective. NPPD’s R-Project will “provide additional opportunities for development of renewable projects if desired at the local level.”

Previously Posted
On-and-Off Wind and Solar Power Pushing Coal Plants to the Brink, Bloomberg

The Gentleman coal plant was once the linchpin of Nebraska’s electricity grid, its twin smokestacks visible for miles across the prairie. Now, the state’s biggest power source is routinely pushed aside to make room for more wind and solar energy.

NPPD Photo: The Gerald Gentleman Station, located just south of Sutherland, is Nebraska’s largest electricity generating plant. The station consists of two coal-fired generating units which were launched into service in 1979 and 1982 and which together have the generation capacity of 1,365 megawatts of power.

NPPD’s R-Project: Reducing transmission congestion and providing opportunities for additional renewable energy 

Project Overview
NPPD’s R-Project is a 345,000-volt transmission line from NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland to NPPD’s existing substation east of Thedford. The new line will then proceed east and connect to a second substation to be sited in Holt County.

NPPD’s electric grid is an essential link to ensuring service for our customers. The R-Project will increase the reliability of the transmission system, relieve congestion on the existing system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable projects if desired at the local level.

Southwest Power Pool’s Role
NPPD is a member of the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization. The SPP conducted a study, also known as the Integrated Transmission Plan, to assess the needs of the entire transmission network with the SPP region over the next 10 years. The R-Project is one of numerous projects to come out of that study.

Follow R-Project’s Progress Here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Department of Energy awards funding for Phase II of carbon capture study for Gentleman Station, NPPD News Release

It will be beneficial for NPPD customer-owners to have access to data on the costs of fossil fuels and carbon capture versus renewables or renewables+storage. 

How heat pumps can cut carbon pollution from buildings

Contributed by Sarah Kennedy, ChavoBart Digital Media.
Posted on Yale Climate Connections

“These new cold climate air source heat pumps are functional down to -10, -15 degrees,” [Chris Carrick with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board] says. And they run on electricity, so they generate heat without burning oil, natural gas or other fuels on site. According to a report by the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, switching to heat pumps could dramatically reduce the carbon pollution caused by home heating. They have the most impact in places with renewable electricity. Read more here.

More Yale Climate Connections Posts / Audio 

Nebraska Information Sources on the Above Topics 

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

With 10% penetration, EVs could shift all residential peak load to night, analysis of SoCal Ed finds

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Electric vehicles have the potential to act as virtual power plants that can help utilities soak up midday renewable energy and discharge in the evenings to reduce peak load, according to a study from Jackson Associates released Wednesday. The analysis, based on 5,000 Southern California Edison (SCE) customers’ hourly loads, commuting behavior and “potential electric vehicle (EV) ownership,” concluded that at a 10% EV penetration, the batteries could shift the utility’s entire residential peak load to nighttime hours.

Over 20 million EVs are expected on U.S. roads by 2030 — a rapid increase from the 1.26 million on the road as of June, according to a Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) report released this month. “[U]tilities need to plan ahead to minimize grid impacts” of growing EV adoption, the group concludes. Read more here.

 Photo Credit: Flickr; National Renewable Energy Lab

ALSO IN THE NEWS

IEA Bags US$67 Million Contract For 130-MW Wind Farm In Iowa

By Saif Bepari, Technology Magazine

Speaking on the announcement, JP Roehm, Chief Executive Officer, IEA, said that the Richland project validates Iowa’s ongoing and strong commitment towards wind energy. Iowa has already made some substantial progress by installing nearly 9,000 megawatts, while more than 1,100 additional megawatts are currently under construction in the region. Read more here.

Previously Posted IEA News Release, August 6, 2019
Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives, Inc. Announces $98 Million Wind Construction Project in Nebraska, Globe Newswire. The award is for construction of the Milligan 1 Wind Farm in Saline County in southeast Nebraska. This is a 300-megawatt project that is expected to provide enough energy to power up to 115,000 homes. The power generated by the project’s planned 99 turbines will be delivered into the Southwest Power Pool electrical grid. Work on the Milligan 1 project is scheduled to begin in September with full operation by November 2020.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

ABIGAIL ROSS HOPPER POST

Why America’s Top Businesses Are Also Leading on Solar Energy, SEIA Blog

FEATURED OP-ED

It’s time to value DER in resource adequacy
In this op-ed for pv magazine, Craig Lewis of Clean Coalition argues for a greater role for distributed energy resources to mitigate future power shortages and grid instability.

NEW STUDY

NREL engineer on the ‘grand challenges’ of supersizing wind power on the grid, Energy News Network. Wind energy is growing at a fast pace, with various forecasts projecting it will supply between one-quarter and one-third of the world’s electricity by 2050. The potential could range up to half if scientists and engineers can resolve three big challenges, according to a new review study published this month in the journal Science. 

COMMERCIAL SOLAR MARKET

5 Observations on the Commercial Solar Market, contributed article by Richard Walsh, Greentech Media. There’s more capital chasing solar assets than there are quality projects available, giving developers their pick of partners, the author writes. Richard Walsh is managing partner at Madison Energy Investments, a platform that develops, owns and operates distributed generation projects within the commercial and industrial and small utility-scale sectors.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Getting Real Serious About Renewable Hydrogen In Real America, CleanTechnica

CIRCULAR ECONOMY NEWS

5 emerging jobs in the circular economy, GreenBiz
The circular economy is celebrated as a trillion-dollar opportunity beginning to penetrate industries around the world. There’s no sector or region left untouched by the potential for reinventing systems, products and services in a fashion that ultimately creates no waste and even regenerates natural systems. At least that’s the hope among evangelists of circularity, notably the Ellen MacArthur Foundation alongside many hundreds of corporations aligned on various ambitious circular goals.

WIND WILDLIFE RESEARCH FUND

Funding innovation to support science-based solutions: The Wind Wildlife Research Fund, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog. This is a guest post from Kyle Boudreaux, NextEra Energy Resources and Chair of the Wind Wildlife Research Fund Advisory Council.

NEGATIVE WHOLESALE POWER PRICES

Strong wind power in the US Midwest today means wholesale prices are below zero, Electrek
The Plains states are seeing strong, steady winds today that are keeping the wind turbines turning, so wholesale power prices have fallen below zero. Negative electricity rates are becoming more common as utilities incorporate solar and wind power with no fossil-fuel costs. This will only increase as the US reduces coal consumption and builds more green energy sources.

Engineers tell commissioners that R-Project prep has started

By Todd Von Kampen, North Platte Telegraph

Field preparations for building the R-Project transmission line through Nebraska’s Sandhills are under way, though Nebraska Public Power District officials say construction likely must wait for spring. Engineers for NPPD and project contractor Forbes Bros. Timberline Construction Inc. updated Lincoln County commissioners Monday on progress toward starting the 225-mile-long, 345-kilovolt line north from Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland. County Board members urged NPPD senior project manager Paul Brune to stay in close touch so construction and supply crews minimize damage to county roads as they plant towers and string lines. Continue reading here.

NPPD Resources

NPPD plans to construct a 345,000-volt transmission line from NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland to NPPD’s existing substation east of Thedford. The new line will then proceed east and connect to a second substation to be sited in Holt County. NPPD’s electric grid is an essential link to ensuring service for our customers. The R-Project will increase the reliability of the transmission system, relieve congestion on the existing system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable projects if desired at the local level. The first two reasons take precedence over the third as, even if no renewable energy projects ever connect to this line, it is still needed to address reliability concerns and relieve congestion.

SPP’s ROLE
NPPD is a member of the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization. The SPP conducted a study, also known as the Integrated Transmission Plan, to assess the needs of the entire transmission network with the SPP region over the next 10 years. The R-Project is one of numerous projects to come out of that study. If NPPD did not build the R-Project, the SPP would find another entity to do so.

WHY THEDFORD
For the R-Project, adding facilities to an existing substation to meet transmission network reliability or customer electrical energy delivery needs is the most cost-effective solution. Additionally, the Thedford 115kV substation is at the midpoint of the west leg of the 115kV transmission network serving north central Nebraska and is centrally located with respect to the termination points of the R-Project transmission line.

The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine    

Fitch Solutions Marco Research has released a report, Midwest US Set To Experience Strong Growth In Solar Sector, which makes some very bold predictions about the future of the solar industry in America’s heartland. Chief among those bold predictions, Fitch states that it expects the region to add 100 GW of solar power capacity over the next 10 years. This astronomical, gargantuan, whichever word of scope you use to describe, prediction is supported mainly by the region’s large proposed solar project pipeline, with a total potential added capacity of a smidge under 79 GWac that are registered within the MISO, SPP and PJM generation interconnection queues – the grid operators that cover the region. Read more here.

Regional Transmission Organizations

Photo Credit: Ideal Energy in Iowa

NATIONAL NEWS

  • Decentralization is more than a dream, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine
    The idea that rooftop solar and other distributed resources could avoid the need for new power lines isn’t theory. In its 2017-2018 transmission plan, California’s grid operator cancelled 20 new transmission projects and revised 21 more due to energy efficiency and residential solar power altering load forecasts, with a projected savings of $2.6 billion.
  • Federal policy could unlock new value from rooftop solar and home batteries, by David Thill, Energy News Network. The report describes how policy guidance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the wholesale markets, could open the door for more participation of aggregated distributed energy resources in the markets. Right now, customer-managed storage, and storage paired with generation like solar, are the resources developers seem most interested in aggregating for wholesale participation, said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel at Advanced Energy Economy.
  • US Wind Industry Seeks Same Tax Incentives as Solar, by Karl-Erik Stromsta, Greentech Media
    In a strategic shift, the American wind industry has begun pressing lawmakers to extend solar’s ITC to onshore wind projects. Regardless of what happens in the battle for tax-credit extensions, the wind market is in the midst of its all-time biggest boom years. Wood Mackenzie expects the U.S. to add nearly 40 gigawatts of capacity in 2019-2021 as developers race to beat the PTC deadline.

EV NEWS

  • 6 US regions leading the way on electric buses, by contributor Jason Plautz, Smart Cities Dive
    Although electric buses can present technological and logistical hurdles for cities and school districts, advanced planning and dedicated resources can make them fit into any environment. That’s the message of a new report from the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and Environment America, which examined six U.S. cities and regions that have taken the lead on phasing out diesel buses. 
  • Electric bus fleets are the latest tool for improving air quality, contributed article by William Drier, Research Analyst, Transportation Innovations, Navigant Research. Published by GreenBiz.
    Concerns about air quality and vehicle emissions are rising globally. According to the Health Effects Institute (PDF), air pollution is one of the top-ranking risk factors for death and disability, with vehicle emissions the main contributor of outdoor pollution. Local and regional governments are increasingly focused on improving their ambient air quality.

Banks Are Finally Starting to Account for Climate Change Risk

By Saijel Kishan, Bloomberg/Quint

Behind the scenes at some of the world’s biggest banks, small teams of employees are busy trying to calculate what might prove to be one of the most important numbers any financial institution will ever disclose: how much the assets on their balance sheet are contributing to global warming. Read more here.

Flickr Photo

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GLOBAL NEWS

Ørsted to Build Wind Farm in Nebraska

Ørsted News Release, Business Wire

Ørsted’s U.S. onshore company, Lincoln Clean Energy (LCE), a leading developer of U.S. renewables, issued the Final Notice to Proceed on its Plum Creek wind facility in Wayne County, Nebraska. This follows the final investment decision from Ørsted’s Board of Directors. The 230MW wind farm is expected to be operational in 2020 and will generate enough energy to power up to 100,000 homes annually. Upon issuance, LCE now has 670MW of wind facilities under construction across three states: Texas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. LCE has entered into long-term power purchase agreements for the facility’s power with The J.M. Smucker Company, Vail Resorts, and Avery Dennison Corporation. Read more here.

iStock Photo

Previously Posted

More Nebraska News

  • WEC Energy Group to acquire 80% ownership in Thunderhead Wind Energy Center, WEC Energy Group News Release, PR Newswire. WEC Energy Group today announced that the company has agreed to acquire an 80% ownership interest in Thunderhead Wind Energy Center. The project is being developed in Antelope and Wheeler counties, Nebraska by Invenergy — a leading developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions.  Commercial operation is expected to begin by the end of 2020. The wind farm has a long-term offtake agreement with a Fortune 100 company for 100% of the energy produced. 
  • SPP Continues Adding Wind, The Wire
    The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) has seen 754 megawatts (MW) of wind capacity enter commercial operation so far in 2019. The information was part of a generation interconnection status report released in late August, according to S&P Global. Another 1.5 gigawatts (GW), nearly all wind, is scheduled to come online in 2019, including OPPD’s 160-MW Sholes Wind Energy Center near Wayne, Neb. All generation yet to come online in 2019 is concentrated in five states: Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. The report stated as of the end of 2018, SPP had about 20.6 GW of wind, in terms of nameplate capacity, which made up almost 23% of SPP’s 89,999 MW of resource capacity. That placed wind third behind natural gas with 40.3% and coal with 28.65% for the year.
  • 12th annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference schedule announced, North Platte Telegraph