MISO Leadership Says Transmission Expansion, Market Redefinition ‘not Optional’
NextEra Energy
MISO execs say long-term transmission and a capacity market redesign are a must in response to rising climate risks and fleet change.

MISO leadership at the RTO’s Board Week this month said that resource adequacy reforms and dramatic transmission expansion are necessary to the footprint’s future reliability.

“Right now, we’re seeing the electric industry changing in big and exciting ways,” Erica Stillson, of MISO’s business operations division, said at the Board of Directors’ Markets Committee meeting June 15.

Stillson said aging baseload generation being swapped for cleaner and more distributed generation has increased transmission congestion. Even if MISO is resource-secure into the future, the footprint doesn’t have sufficient transmission to transport supply, she said.

The need to act on both a resource adequacy redesign and long-range transmission planning is “not optional,” Stillson said. Reliability hazards are growing outside of summer months, which used to be traditionally the riskiest. MISO must review winterization standards and share more analytics with market participants, she said.

Stillson also said new emergency pricing, a seasonal capacity auction and stricter capacity resource accreditation — all projects already in the works — should help. (See MISO: Wintry Weather Vindicates RA Changes.)

“Modifying accreditation is never truly done,” she added.

MISO Executive Director of Market Operations Shawn McFarlane said capacity auction and accreditation changes will drive capacity prices up in future years. He said MISO probably wouldn’t see the likes of this year’s 1 cent/MW-day clearing prices in MISO South again.

At the Advisory Committee on Wednesday, stakeholders again asked for more analysis results from MISO to justify a seasonal auction.

“We don’t deny that MISO is experiencing a shift in loss-of-load risk, but we haven’t seen how a seasonal capacity auction will help that,” Clean Grid Alliance’s Natalie McIntire said, adding that the RTO’s proposal might leave some operational challenges unaddressed.

Independent Market Monitor David Patton said MISO’s leniency in its accreditation proposal will render it ineffective against improving resource availability. The grid operator has tweaked its proposal to include availability during non-risky hours in addition to risky hours as the basis for accreditation. (See MISO Softens Capacity Accreditation Proposal.)

“MISO’s current accreditation in the face of pushback from stakeholders … is not going to be something that solves the problem,” Patton said. “Accreditation is one of these areas where you’re not going to make members happy.”

Stillson said MISO must also rethink how it trains its control room operators to manage a transformed grid. She said the RTO’s large control room screens that display real-time information, in use for the past 15 years, need to be upgraded to keep pace with a rapidly changing fleet and furnish operators more data. “The old system is cumbersome, inefficient and sometimes manual.”

Director Barbara Krumsiek pointed out that MISO will “always be dependent on the human element, shift operators and leadership, especially during times of stress.”

Executive Director of Systems Operations Renuka Chatterjee also acknowledged that MISO will always rely to some extent on human decision-making, just as airplanes will always be manned by human pilots “even if the plane can fly itself.”

Transmission Development

In MISO’s most conservative transmission planning estimate, the footprint will add about 121 GW in new generation by 2040.

At a meeting of the board’s System Planning Committee on June 15, Executive Director of System Planning Aubrey Johnson said MISO will need to build interchangeable transmission lines that can handle higher HVDC voltages. He also said MISO will need to employ more power flow controls, like phase angle regulators and static synchronous series compensators.

Vice President of System Planning Jennifer Curran said that by September, MISO planners would have an idea of which long-term projects would be included in the 2021 Transmission Expansion Plan (MTEP 21). MISO planners have repeatedly said that unlike the long-term expansion package in 2011, this portfolio would be pieced together through multiple annual MTEP cycles.

Curran said the first set of models MISO released in its long-range transmission plan are the most complex the RTO has ever attempted.

WPPI Energy’s Steve Leovy and WEC Energy Group’s Chris Plante criticized MISO for not being upfront enough about the analyses it’s performing under the long-range plan.

“If MISO needs to spend $30 [billion] to $100 billion, so be it, but stakeholders need visibility into this process,” Plante told the board.

But several other stakeholders invoked separate letters to MISO from Midwestern states and the city of New Orleans urging the RTO to get a jump on long-term infrastructure planning. Arkansas, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Iowa have all encouraged MISO to splurge on long-term transmission projects.

Early Summer Emergency

McFarlane said summer is already off to a rocky start with an early heat wave that spawned a brief maximum generation emergency on June 10. He said many market participants were still wrapping up spring maintenance outages when the hot spell struck.

MISO must declare a maximum generation emergency to access some of its 14 GW in load-modifying resources. Lately the grid operator’s market staff have said that they want to reorder emergency steps so they don’t have to declare an emergency before accessing LMRs.

“We really shouldn’t be surprised when we have to take that action,” McFarlane said. “I want to emphasize that we called on resources that are part of our planning processes.”

He said MISO ultimately asked for about 2.5 GW in load reduction and received about 5 GW more than that.

“Unfortunately, during these emergencies, our crystal ball isn’t very good,” McFarlane said, adding that MISO isn’t notified of how much in imports it stands to receive.

McFarlane said the emergency wasn’t a function of volatile renewable generation, but unavailable conventional resources through planned and unplanned outages.

Beyond early June, spring was relatively quiet, McFarlane said.

Patton said energy prices were up 40% from last spring because of a year-over-year jump in natural gas prices. The spring also brought a “remarkable level of congestion,” more than doubling up last spring’s, mostly because of higher wind generation in the footprint. “It’s just becoming increasingly difficult to get wind out of the North when output is high,” he said.

To better manage congestion, MISO should adopt dynamic line ratings, Patton said. He said wind tends to blow harder when air temperatures are lower, making the use of grid-enhancing technologies (GETs) ideal to transport more wind power.

“It will unlock a lot of transmission that we don’t make full use of,” he said.

Had MISO had GETs in place, it could have saved about $30 million in congestion costs over the quarter, Patton said.

“We’re heading to something like $2 billion in congestion this year,” Patton said, acknowledging that MISO has work ahead of it before it can use adjusted ratings in the day-ahead market.

Transmission Owners sector delegate Stacy Herbert said TOs believe that the Monitor’s saving estimates are overstated.

OMS President and North Dakota Public Service Commission Chair Julie Fedorchak called for more transparency into TOs’ ratings and calculation methods.

“A lack of transparency in this area has impeded progress,” she said of implementing GETs.

Capacity MarketDemand ResponseMISO Board of DirectorsOnshore WindResource AdequacyTransmission OperationsTransmission Planning

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