MISO Study to Decide Fate of Texas Competitive Project
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</style><p>An artist rendering of Entergy's Orange County Advanced Power Station. Whether Entergy builds the 1.2-GW natural gas and hydrogen-powered facility could influence whether MISO proceeds with the Hartburg-Sabine Junction transmission project.</p>

An artist rendering of Entergy's Orange County Advanced Power Station. Whether Entergy builds the 1.2-GW natural gas and hydrogen-powered facility could influence whether MISO proceeds with the Hartburg-Sabine Junction transmission project.

| Entergy
MISO is forming the planning analyses that will decide the fate of the contentious Hartburg-Sabine Junction project, but some stakeholders have concerns.

MISO planning analyses will soon decide the fate of the contentious and delayed Hartburg-Sabine Junction competitive project in East Texas as some stakeholders question the lack of more aggressive clean-energy projections in the restudy.

The RTO last month announced it would reassess the 500-kV, $130 million market-efficiency project under its variance analysis procedures. Depending on the study’s results, the RTO has two options: cancel the project or confer the line to incumbent developer Entergy in accordance with Texas’s right-of-first refusal (ROFR) law. (See MISO Reassessing Hartburg-Sabine Project amid Texas ROFR Dispute.)

MISO approved the project under its 2017 Transmission Expansion Plan (MTEP 17). The grid operator found that the first competitive transmission project ever assigned in MISO South would alleviate congestion, ease import limitations, and allow access to lower cost generation in the chronically constrained West of the Atchafalaya Basin and Western load pockets in Entergy’s servicer territory.

However, Texas passed its ROFR legislation in 2019, blocking MISO’s selected competitive developer NextEra Energy Transmission Midwest from breaking ground. (See Texas ROFR Bill Passes, Awaits Governors Signature.)

During a South Technical Study Task Force meeting Wednesday, MISO Senior Manager of Competitive Transmission Administration Brian Pedersen said the variance analysis was triggered by two factors: a delay of the project’s in-service date and NextEra’s inability to secure permitting to begin construction.

Pederson said though the variance analysis criteria was in fact triggered in 2019, staff didn’t immediately embark on a restudy because of NextEra’s continuing litigation against the Texas law. However, he said the original 2023 in-service date is too close for MISO to continue to hold out for pending litigation.

Pedersen also said new planning analyses are a good practice, given the length of time that has passed without any construction.

“It’s been a little over four years since the project was approved,” he said, adding that the RTO rarely reanalyzes economic projects.

MISO will adhere to its market planning congestion study process to reanalyze the line but will use just one of its trio of existing, 20-year planning futures to assign a new benefit-to-cost ratio. The grid operator’s market efficiency projects must have a B/C ratio of at least 1.25:1 to be recommended.

Staff said they would model the project using Future 1, which predicts the least amount of future renewable energy additions, thermal generation retirements and electrification into the 2030s.

MISO will also consult with Entergy Texas on a new, estimated in-service date for the line.

Clean Grid Alliance’s Natalie McIntire questioned the use of just one future to restudy the line. She said it seemed MISO would conduct an incomplete analysis if it left out the Futures 2 and 3, which anticipate more rapid clean-energy transitions.

“We have three futures because we don’t really know what the future will look like. Future 1, as it was created, has already been exceeded based on utility announcements and state goals in recent years,” McIntire argued.

She asked staff to consider also modeling the line under Futures 2 and 3.

“If we don’t do that, I don’t think we’re doing the line justice about how it will perform 20 years into the future … It’s a concern,” McIntire said.

Andy Kowalczyk of activist group 350 New Orleans said simply using Future 1 doesn’t seem to align with Entergy’s goal to source 100% clean energy by 2050.

Other stakeholders asked whether staff will account for recent generation retirements in the area, last year’s addition of Entergy’s 993-MW Montgomery County Power Station in southeast Texas, and the likelihood that Entergy builds its planned 1.2-GW natural gas and hydrogen-powered Orange County Advanced Power Station by 2026.

MISO only includes future generation in its planning analyses when the units have a signed generation interconnection agreement. However, staff said they would look into generation assumptions and planning futures that will influence the study and report back to stakeholders.

The RTO plans to post a study scope for stakeholder review by May 23 and will hold two more South Technical Study Task Forces on June 8 and July 20 to discuss the project’s need. The grid operator said it will make a final determination for the line sometime in August.

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