NERC: ITCS to Become ‘Road map’ for Grid Studies
NERC's RSTC met at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle
NERC's RSTC met at Amazon's headquarters in Seattle | SounderBruce, CC-BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
NERC staff say the Interregional Transfer Capability Study will lay "important groundwork" for future reliability assessments.

NERC and the regional entities are making “tremendous strides” on the congressionally mandated Interregional Transfer Capability Study and expect to have a draft of the final report ready for stakeholder comment by August, John Moura, the ERO’s director of reliability assessment and system analysis, said this week. 

Addressing the quarterly meeting of NERC’s Reliability and Security Technical Committee in Seattle, Moura reminded attendees that the ITCS represents an “unprecedented” effort on the part of the ERO. NERC began work on the study last August, following an order from Congress in the Fiscal Responsibility Act to deliver to FERC a report on the total transfer capability between neighboring regions, additions to transfer capability that could strengthen grid reliability, and recommendations to meet and maintain total transfer capability. (See FERC Approves NERC Transfer Study Funding Request.) The law stipulates that NERC must submit the final report to FERC by December. 

The study “is on schedule, and really … lays out important groundwork for our future assessments,” Moura said. Elaborating on this point, he explained that the tight deadline had provided an incentive for the ERO to quickly develop new ways of working together. 

“One of the biggest challenges has been integrating diverse systems and ensuring that our assumptions are internally consistent across the planning regions. That’s the one unprecedented thing about this study, and it’s difficult to get that consistency across the different planning coordinators,” he said. “However, it’s also led to a lot of innovations in how we conduct such a large-scale study. … We’ve developed a common modeling approach and [been] working with our stakeholders in new ways.” 

To give a sense of the overall size of the effort, Moura explained that for the first part of the study — the overall transfer capability — the team is examining 114 bidirectional transfer points across North America and assessing winter and summer peak cases for 2023 and 2032 applied to each point, equating to 456 individual studies with 30 contingency analysis results. 

Moura observed that the requirement to suggest prudent additions to transfer capability also requires NERC to study transfer points that don’t exist yet. One example is a currently theoretical interface between Texas and WECC’s Southwest subregion. The team must determine what kind of transfer such a connection may be capable of, and then assess whether such capability would be “prudent” to add for grid reliability. 

The draft report will be released in stages to “allow longer periods of comment and input,” Moura said. “This year’s publications will focus on the U.S., he said, with results relating to interprovincial transfers in Canada to be released in the first quarter of 2025. 

“The ITCS [is] more than a study: It’s a road map for the future of our interconnected power system and how the ERO will conduct assessments in the future,” Moura said. “We appreciate the ongoing support and input from all stakeholders as we navigate the complex but crucial task.” 


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