On March 3, the Midcontinent
Independent System Operator (MISO) presented a final report and key findings
from its Renewable Integration Impact Assessment (RIIA), a years-long study of
the impact of increasing renewable energy in the MISO footprint. The study
evaluated the addition of renewable energy at various penetration levels - up to 50% - to identify challenges that may
emerge in transmission, markets and operations, and offered potential solutions
to remedy them.
MISO has done an excellent job with this comprehensive study
and we appreciate the foresight they have had in getting ahead of the issues
before they become problems. Renewable energy is here to stay, so putting
forward a report that includes a number of next steps and suggestions for additional
research will help chart a course for further development of renewable energy
in the Midwest and is just what we need.
Wind and solar developers are being asked to develop
projects for utilities as well as corporate and industrial customers who are
anxious to deliver low-cost clean energy to their customers and reduce their
carbon footprint at the same time. So it
was particularly gratifying to read in the report that achieving 50 percent
renewable energy on the MISO system is not insurmountable, although the study
indicated a significant amount of transmission in the north and western
portions of the MISO footprint is needed along with coordinated action on improvement
to markets and operations.
Among the important conclusions identified in the study are:
flexible resources will be needed, as well as market products and incentives
for existing and future gas and storage and even renewables to offer their flexibility;
transmission and other emerging technologies will be needed to provide a stable
grid capable of delivering power where it is needed; and
region needs to move forward expeditiously to address these issues in a timely
Clean Grid Alliance is excited to be a partner in figuring
out these really tough challenges. We look to MISO to be a leader because
incremental change alone in transmission, markets and operations will not get
us to the net-zero goals announced by many utilities. We need bold action, and
call on MISO and its members to provide a grid that can reliably add the new
resources needed to significantly reduce carbon intensity in the Midcontinent.
The Midwest has excellent wind and solar resources, but is
lacking adequate transmission to deliver them. On the heels of the massive
power outages in Texas, questions about how much renewable energy the system
can handle has prompted even more questions. Whether the system ‘breaks’ at 30
percent renewables is not the right question. MISO’s RIIA study has done a
great job identifying what needs to be done to prepare for the generation shift
that is already underway, and we urge them to implement the solutions as
quickly as possible.
It’s wonderful to see MISO has already started this work
through the Long-Range Transmission Planning effort, the Resource Availability
and Need effort, and the recent Reliability Imperative report.
Clean Grid Alliance encourages MISO to further study how
storage and hybrid resources can help provide solutions to ramping, grid
stability issues, and to reduce the overall need for transmission. This is a
one-step-at-a-time process, but time is of the essence. More work and
coordination with all stakeholders will be needed so the region can hone in on
and implement solutions to prepare for the generation shift.