Integrating variable energy resources to the electric power grid (cont.)

Michael Giberson

In January we noted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s questions concerning the integration of “variable energy resources” to the electric power grid.  FERC asked for comments; over 120 comments have been submitted in reply (so far).  Peter Behr, of ClimateWire, characterizes some of the positions submitted in the FERC inquiry in an article available at NYTimes.com.  Behr said more than 2,800 pages worth of comments have been sent to FERC on the issue.

The fundamental issue is whether or not current industry practices unnecessarily discriminate against variable power sources such as wind and solar.  Behr said, “This debate opens another front in the continuing, behind-the-scenes struggle between the renewable power sector and some of the electricity industry’s old guard, whose historic ways of doing business are now under challenge.”

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9 thoughts on “Integrating variable energy resources to the electric power grid (cont.)

  1. Do you think the label “old guard” is used pejoratively, or is it actually a complement to those that believe that maintaining reliable electricity service is a requirement and not merely an aspiration? Oh, right, NYT….nevermind. Did NERC file comments? They are very “old guard.”

  2. Is this not unlike here in BC where the government is letting the private sector in the wind industry put up the funds and take the unknown risk.

  3. [Referring to NYT article] Backup power for $1.50? Did I read that right? What are they referring to? Nuke and hydro?

    I see reliability engineers struggling to get an analytical handle on wind generation’s ability to support reliability. Wind generation is a fact, and the possibility of much more is accepted, but it is going to take time (and price exposure) for solutions to emerge to physically accommodate wind’s variability, and then to optimize around it. Hiding or ignoring the price signals won’t help anybody.

  4. Yes, expecting electricity to be available to be available when and as much as wanted is such a quaint old fashioned notion, sort of like abstaining from sex outside of marriage. All the fashionable people want their electricity to be available when the wind decides to blow or in the day time only. They think the US should be just like Pakistan.

    “Pakistanis Living on Brink, and Often in the Dark” by Sabrina Tavernise in The New York Times on April 27, 2010 at page A8.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/27/world/asia/27lahore.html

    We are so boned.

  5. Re: $1.50 for back up power.

    Reference resembles the average price for reserve services in NYISO. (To cite a random recent report, the MMU’s 3rd quarter 2009 report for NYISO indicates a real-time 10-minute spinning reserve price for East NYISO of $1.75, and a real-time non-spinning reserve price for East NYISO of $0.70 per MWh.)

    Of course that price is the price paid to keep a unit on standby; if the reserve unit is dispatched for energy it will be paid a market price for the energy.

  6. So, if $1.50 was a backup charge with no energy, while the $30-$60 charge is an actual energy charge, then the woe-is-me statement in the article was simply deceptive. This really is going to get ugly.

  7. Re: Re: $1.50 for back up power

    You forgot the ICAP charge that is required to have the capacity there to provide the operating and supplemental reserve capacity to provide the energy. AWEA is foolish to imply that the long-term backup cost is equatable to the short-term operating reserve costs. And they are equally as foolish to assert that regulation capacity is procured by RTOs to meet day ahead VER uncertainty. There is a difference in the quantity of ancillary services that are procured in the day ahead planning and how such reserves are deployed in real time. AWEA knows that, but they still submit foolish comments to the FERC.

  8. Kudos, I agree that AWEA knows better, which is why I label their comments “deceptive” rather than merely “foolish.” Perhaps it’s foolish for them to think that they can prevail with such arguments, but unfortunately we’ll have to wait and see if they’re successful with it. I wish we could file guffaws and chuckles in response to such things. 😉 We need a Jon Stewart in this business!

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