The Illinois Commerce Commission questioned MISO and PJM officials on their respective RTOs’ preparations for summer Thursday, with commissioners concerned about the rapid retirement of traditional power plants and the lag in interconnecting new renewables.
Robert Kuzman, director of customer affairs for MISO’s Central Region, said the RTO’s meteorologists are not expecting this summer to be as hot overall as last year, but they are expecting June temperatures to be higher than normal, as happened last year.
Using data from previous summers, MISO is modeling wind speeds and the amount of wind generation available hour by hour during previous summer months because of the resource type’s growth in the region, said Kuzman. “Wind forecasting prepares us for changes in wind [power] output from hour to hour and day to day.”
The analysis showed that MISO has tended to have between 800 and 1,200 MW of error in day-ahead forecasting, he said. Solar generation, which is also growing in the region, poses another problem, as weather can also affect its electrical output.
Kuzman also noted that the RTO was forced to delay its first capacity auction under its new seasonal construct after FERC ordered it to rework a capacity value ratio. “So, us being really prepared for summer, until we get those results, that data is not quite there,” he said. (See MISO Unveils New Seasonal Auction Timeline, Ratio.)
ICC Chair Carrie Zalewski asked whether there have been any developments in the retirement of old power plants or availability of demand response.
Kuzman said aggregations of DR are beginning to occur in Zone 4, which includes Ameren Illinois’ service territory, and that the retirement “of some thermal resources” has been delayed.
Mike Bryson, senior vice president of operations for PJM, also noted that shutdowns of fossil plants are occurring at a faster rate than the buildout of wind and solar.
“The megawatts are in the queue. The projects are there. We got to get them out of the queue and get them built,” he said in a reference to the long lead time between applications and approvals of renewable power projects.
In response to a question from Commissioner Conrad Reddick about PJM shortening that lead time, Bryson said the “lag will improve yet continue.” He added that PJM is trying to slow down the closing of thermal plants while working “to get solar and wind projects out and built faster.”
DR has worked when needed, Bryson added. “We going to look for opportunities to get more demand response as well.”
Dave Kolata, executive director of the Illinois Citizens Utility Board, also voiced concern that there are a lot of renewable projects stuck in planning queues.
“There are and there have been delays, and we absolutely need to work on that and make sure that all these projects that are ready to go actually get built,” he told the commission. “As fossil fuel resources … retire, we want to make sure that we have the resources there to replace them. I think there’s no doubt in our minds that that can be done. But clearly, we need to put the focus on that.”
He said the RTOs, particularly PJM, have not recognized that Illinois is committed to moving away from all fossil-fueled power plants to renewables.
“I think that the existing capacity construct is designed to build new combined cycle gas turbines,” he said. “And that’s not consistent with CEJA, and where the state is going,” he said in a reference to the state’s Climate and Equitable Jobs Act passed in 2021, committing the state to 100% clean power by 2045. (See Illinois Senate Passes Landmark Energy Transition Act.)