This issue brief examines the potential benefits of expanding CAISO’s footprint to include other Western balancing areas through the lens of improved economics, renewable power integration, and conventional power plant retirements. The report is consistent with recommendations for policymakers articulated in Planning for and Investing in Wires. The report, summarized here also makes the case against a capacity market for a Western RTO recognizing, as Texas did, that it can be a lifeline to inefficient, old, uneconomical plants.
Electric Power Sector: Regional Planning
This report offers perspective from five leading utilities on the challenges and opportunities for planning around distributed energy resources (DERs). It points out how existing distribution planning is insufficient to take advantage of the value of DERs, and suggests an iterative approach to improve planning. One major change will be incorporating incentive-based DER deployment into planning via new modeling approaches that can capture the complexity of a two-way distribution system.
This report uses California utilities’ Distributed Resource Plans as case studies to assert that current utility planning processes are leaving billions in potential benefits from distributed energy resources (DERs) on the table, and ought to be updated. It highlights regulatory models, utility incentives, and inadequate modeling of benefits as culprits for inefficient DER integration.
This handbook intends to help distribution engineers understand and navigate the challengees of integrating high penetrations of photovoltaic (PV) generation into their service territories. The report describes the potential impacts, provides model-based analytics, and suggests potential mitigation measures.
This study quantifies the benefits of full operational integration between California Independent System Operator (CAISO) and Pacificorp, a utility that spans six Western states. The study finds that market consolidation could produce between $3.4 billion and $9.1 billion in shared cost reductions in the first 20 years through better grid management and efficiencies gained by planning for the resource needs of a single system.
This report covers planning, operations, market design, and oversight in the context of a high distributed energy resources future. The authors lay out a framework for thinking about these topics, as well as a set of steps that state regulators and policymakers could follow to get from today’s system to a future system served by a higher share of distributed resources.
This report argues for the Department of Interior to embrace a landscape-scale approach to development. It also outlines progress made in setting up a renewable energy program for public lands and summarizes some key remaining opportunities, including developing best management practices to minimize impacts during construction and operation, establishing mitigation measures to off-set impacts that cannot be avoided, and protecting areas that are too special to develop.
Grid Integration in the West: Bulk Electric System Reliability, Clean Energy Integration, and Economic Efficiency
This report provides context on the current status of the electric grid in the Western U.S. and summarizes some of the larger initiatives underway to upgrade Bulk Electricity System (BES) planning, operations, and markets. The content is focused on activities that are or could be undertaken at a regional level to improve the reliability and economic performance of the BES while simultaneously facilitating the integration of high penetrations of clean energy resources.
This report highlights deficiencies in existing regional transmission planning conducted under FERC Order 1000, emphasizing that plans consistently fail to consider the full range of benefits that can be realized. It suggests scenario planning that anticipates potential resource needs and reliability concerns. The report concludes that the diverse benefits of a more robust and flexible transmission system are likely to exceed upfront costs in many cases where Order 1000 is currently insufficient.
This report examines the impact of the Clean Power Plan on grid stability. The changing resource mix due to increased coal retirements and renewable energy will alter the pattern of power flows across the transmission system, requiring new lines, line upgrades, and reactive power devices to maintain grid stability. It concludes that across the country, the costs of these changes are likely to be minimal and pose no threat to reliability.