EIPC planning authorities to analyze transmission for 3 ‘futures’

The Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative stakeholder steering committee completed its report selecting three “futures” for which to conduct transmission studies.

The three chosen futures are “business as usual,” a 30% national renewable portfolio standard and a combined climate and energy policy.

This is an interim report in the middle of a 2.5-year study funded by the U.S. Department of Energy to look at the Eastern Interconnection transmission system and potential or alternative transmission needs for a long-range future, David Whiteley, EIPC executive director, told TransmissionHub Dec. 21.

The report evaluates these needs on an interconnection-wide basis, he said. From a planning perspective, work is done in the Eastern Interconnection on a regional basis and on an interregional basis — that is, regions working with their neighbors, Whiteley said. “This is the first of its kind in terms of a study that looks at the entire interconnection at one time, stretching all the way from the Plains to the East Coast and from Canada down to the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.

According to the report, in mid-2009, DOE issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. PJM Interconnection was chosen as the recipient of a portion of the FOA for the Eastern Interconnection and subsequently entered into a cooperative agreement with DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory.

The work of the funding opportunity is divided into two phases. Phase 1 focused on the formation of stakeholder group and its work to model public policy “futures” through the use of macro-economic models. The first phase examined eight futures chosen by the stakeholder group, which has now chosen three future scenarios to pass onto Phase 2 of the project. Phase 2 will focus on conducting the transmission studies on the three scenarios, including numerous studies on grid reliability.

The report was prepared by eight members of the EIPC, which was formed in 2009 and is composed of 26 of the major eastern utilities.

The stakeholder steering committee includes representatives from the states, including state regulators in the Eastern Interconnection, and six industry sectors, including transmission owners and developers, generation owners and users and non-government organizations like environmental groups and consumer advocate groups. It also includes other suppliers involved in energy efficiency and demand response.

The purpose of the first phase was to look at how resources in the resource side of the industry might develop under different policies, or different assumed future conditions, Whiteley said, adding that eight different futures are defined in the report.

The three futures to be analyzed in Phase 2 as chosen by the stakeholder group are:

  • Future 1: Business as usual, that is a continuation of existing conditions including load growth, existing renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) and currently proposed environmental regulations.
  • Future 6: National RPS – regional implementation, that is to meet 30% of the nation’s electricity requirements from renewable resources by 2030; achieved by using a regional implementation strategy.
  • Future 8: Combined federal climate and energy policy. This one calls to reduce economy-wide carbon emissions by 50% from 2005 levels in 2030 and 80% in 2050 combined with meeting 30% of the nation’s electricity requirements from renewable resources by 2030 and significant deployment of energy efficiency measures, demand response, distributed generation, smart grid and other low-carbon technologies; achieved by using a nationwide/Eastern Interconnection-wide implementation strategy.

“Phase 2, which we will complete next year in calendar year 2012, will actually be the work that’s focused on coming up with transmission alternatives that might be required to support those three scenarios for the future,” Whiteley said.

In Phase 2, the planning authorities from EIPC will do the transmission analysis work in conjunction with the stakeholders, who will provide input and guidance to the analysis, he said.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3152 Articles
Corina Rivera-Linares, chief editor for TransmissionHub, has covered the U.S. power industry for the past 15 years. Before joining TransmissionHub, Corina covered renewable energy and environmental issues, as well as transmission, generation, regulation, legislation and ISO/RTO matters at SNL Financial. She has also covered such topics as health, politics, and education for weekly newspapers and national magazines. She can be reached at clinares@endeavorb2b.com.