Midcontinent ISO wrestling with gas-electric integration, Bloodworth says

These are busy days at the Midcontinent ISO (MISO), Executive Director External Affairs Michelle Bloodworth told the PennWell GenForum gathering Aug. 18 in Columbus, Ohio.

At MISO, Bloodworth runs various hats, ranging from stakeholder relations to leading gas-electric interactions. She came to MISO in April from America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) and looking at gas and electric issues from both sides “has opened up my eyes” on the importance of communications, Bloodworth told the conference that was organized by GenerationHub.

MISO manages more than 65,000 miles of electric transmission lines. MISO also has the largest organized market in the United States with more than 177,000 MW of installed generation with a growing amount of that being fueled by natural gas.

Gas counts for about 38% of the installed capacity across MISO. MISO is diverse by sub-region, with natural gas comprising 28% of installed capacity in MISO North/Central and 67% in MISO South, Bloodworth said.

“We all know that the shale gas revolution has certainly rocked the world” for both the electric power and natural gas industries,” Bloodworth said.  

While PJM Interconnection has more natural gas in its footprint, the scope of natural gas use is increasing in MISO. There are over 200 gas-fired generators in MISO with connections to 30-plus pipelines and 20-plus local gas distribution companies.

MISO expects to see significant additional coal retirements in 2016 when states start filing their Clean Power Plan implementation plans with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This greater dependence on gas and carbon-neutral resources is expected to have an impact on economic dispatch, Bloodworth said.

EPA announced its final version of the Clean Power Plan on Aug. 3. It calls upon states to cut power sector CO2 emissions 32% by 2030.

MISO does not take a position on the Clean Power Plan but there could be “billions of dollars of cost” in terms of transmission upgrades and other enhanced infrastructure.

Increased gas supply from both the Marcellus and Utica Shale regions are altering the MISO landscape, Bloodworth noted. “We have plenty of natural gas” but the question will be adequacy of infrastructure. “We really believe we are going to need more infrastructure” with the Clean Power Plan, Bloodworth said.

Both Bloodworth and Will noted that more coordination is needed between gas pipelines and the operators of combined-cycle gas power plants.

Bloodworth has been involved with the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) dialogue on alignment of the natural gas and electric power business days. MISO is seeking to improve its situational awareness of what’s going on with natural gas delivery.

MISO took 14 months of stakeholder input before filing its comments on FERC order 809. “MISO is aligning its day-ahead electricity market with gas pipeline nomination cycles,” Bloodworth said.

MISO proposed to adjust certain aspects of its day-ahead market so that natural gas-fired generating units can schedule next-day pipeline deliveries in a manner that better aligns with the new pipeline-scheduling cycles that FERC established in its order, Bloodworth said.

MISO is building an operational contact list with all pipelines in the MISO footprint.

“Is it better to retool a coal plant that already has existing transmission” or is better to build a gas plant and add transmission? That’s going to be a question that comes up a number of times in the future, Bloodworth said.

MISO has already modeled the draft Clean Power Plan using six scenarios ranging from business-as-usual to a scenario stressing high energy efficiency and significant build-out of wind and solar resources.

MISO, like Texas, has a lot of wind in its footprint, Bloodworth noted. The next GenForum is scheduled Dec. 7 in Las Vegas at the Greater Las Vegas Convention Center.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.