MISO energy mix 51% coal in 2015; expected to decline to 36% in 2030

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) was still getting 51% of its energy from coal-fired power plants in 2015, but that percentage is expected to decline to only 36% in 2030.

That’s according to materials that MISO Executive Director, Strategy Scott Wright prepared for PennWell’s Aug. 23 GenForum in Columbus, Ohio.

Gas-fired generation is becoming increasingly prominent in MISO due to economics and continuing environmental pressures – such as EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard (MATS).

The gas portion of the energy mix was only 23% in 2015; but is expected to hit 35% in 2030 – putting it on near-parity with coal.

Fuel assurance and flexible gas product offerings become even more important with the changing generation mix. The MISO footprint is unique in that it has good access to many low-cost shale basins, and that access is improving, according the MISO materials.

The regions served by MISO have tended to be largely supportive of pipeline development, Wright said.

But the growing importance of natural gas in the electric power mix, collaboration between the natural gas and electric industries becomes increasingly important, Wright said.

Then there is the growing impact of wind power. Wind was only 9% of total generation in 2015 with 15,000 MW of generating capacity. But wind is currently expected to grow two-fold to three-fold in capacity terms by 2030.

Geographically, MISO is the largest regional transmission organization and independent system operator in North America. It has 180,000 MW of installed generation; a peak system demand of 127,000 MW and high voltage transmission of 66,000 miles.

Installed gas capacity is projected to increase 7,400 MW in the queue through 2020. Meanwhile about 10,000 MW of coal capacity either has been retired or will be retired due to MATS, Wright said.

The 200-odd natural gas generators spread across MISO rely on diverse supply paths, including interstate pipelines and gas utilities, Wright said. Access to many low-cost shale basins already exists and this access is improving, Wright said.

Generally speaking, MISO service areas have been historically supportive of pipeline development, he said. “Due to the majority of MISO being comprised of vertically-integrated utilities, MISO appears well-positioned to facilities cost recovery of required gas services, Wright said.

MISO is also experiencing a wind power boom that will also require flexible natural gas generation for backup, Wright said.


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.