MISO wants to add another year to White Pine SSR agreement

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator on April 21 asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for approval of a System Support Resource (SSR) agreement with White Pine Electric Power LLC (WPEP) that will keep a 20-MW unit at White Pine’s power plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in operation for the time being.

This is second renewal of an original SSR agreement. WPEP owns the White Pine facilities located in White Pine, Michigan. These facilities include three generating units, one of which is non-operational and another is retired. White Pine Unit No. 1, which is the subject of this submission, provides approximately 20 MW of capacity. White Pine has two boilers that have historically been coal-fired, but were subsequently switched to natural gas purchased on the spot market.

In October 2013, WPEP submitted an Attachment Y to MISO for retirement of White Pine 1, beginning on April 16, 2014. MISO notified WPEP in 2014 that White Pine 1 would be designated a SSR Unit until such time as appropriate alternatives could be implemented to mitigate grid reliability issues. This lightly-populated part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has both scarce numbers of power plants and power lines, making it tricky to make up for lost local generation.

MISO concluded that the proposed retirement of White Pine 1, without curtailment of load by means of demand response or another alternative, would result in violations of specific applicable reliability standards. 

MISO notified WPEP that the SSR designation for White Pine 1 would continue following the expiration of the prior SSR agreement, subject to review of feasible alternatives to the continued SSR designation. MISO worked with WPEP and the MISO Independent Market Monitor (IMM) to negotiate and develop an appropriate SSR agreement. WPEP has agreed to a 12-month SSR agreement for the period between April 16, 2016, and April 15, 2017.

On Feb. 8, 2016, in the course of reviewing feasible alternatives, MISO held a West Technical Study Task Force stakeholder meeting regarding White Pine 1. Stakeholders were asked to provide input regarding feasible alternatives that could address the reliability issues. The end result of this meeting (and any later feedback) was the absence of any alternatives that are available at this time to avoid the need for renewal of the SSR agreement. During the Feb. 8 stakeholder discussion, the review of generation redispatch, system reconfiguration, special protection schemes, and/or operating guides provided no solution to fully address the reliability issues identified.

Discussion of generation alternatives included questions regarding the use of small-scale generation that might be installed as a temporary measure to replace the White Pine 1 SSR Unit for reliability purposes. Such generation might provide an alternative solution if agreements and procedures existed that would permit MISO to dispatch generation when needed. Otherwise, such units would be treated like demand response alternatives that require additional operating protocols to ensure the level of firmness needed to respond to system conditions.

In response to a question concerning the timing of a recently proposed generator project in the area, a MISO representative responded that the project (if constructed) could potentially reduce the time needed for the White Pine 1 SSR. A firm conclusion would require an evaluation following the execution of a Generator Interconnection Agreement. Demand response alternatives were also discussed, without any feasible alternative being offered.

Stakeholders raised questions regarding the specific area where load curtailment would be needed and how a prospective customer would offer such a service. A MISO representative explained that the impacted area is effectively bounded by the constrained and contingent facilities identified in the study, and that interested parties would need to work directly with MISO to evaluate and implement a suitable load curtailment arrangement.

Stakeholders raised questions regarding the nature of the planned outages and whether MISO and the transmission owner were coordinating outage plans. MISO confirmed that the annual assessments involve a review of the outage plans of the transmission owner (American Transmission Co.).

MISO provided updated estimates and requirements for facility maintenance for the latest review, including consideration of outage deferrals and rescheduling to avoid conditions that require a White Pine 1 SSR agreement. No outage rescheduling options exist to eliminate the need for the SSR agreement since the remaining outage plans are required to be completed within a limited timeframe in advance of the proposed transmission upgrades.

Unless an alternative is identified, White Pine 1 will no longer be required for reliability purposes in connection with a transmission upgrade. The current estimated in-service date of Project 8089 that would rebuild the 69-kV transmission path from Lakota Road to Mass to Winona and convert the line to 138-kV operation is Dec. 31, 2021.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.