ISO-NE’s: Four projects under study as elective transmission upgrades

ISO New England (ISO-NE) said that according to its recently issued “2017 Regional System Plan (RSP17),” with growing levels of photovoltaic (PV) and energy efficiency (EE) resources, the 10-year demand forecast shows total annual use of electric energy declining by 0.6% per year, with the summer peak declining 0.1% annually by 2026 under normal weather conditions.

Without PV and EE, the baseline forecast shows that annual energy consumption would grow by 0.9% annually, and peak demand would grow by 1.0%, ISO-NE added on Nov. 2.

The RSP17, which is the biennial report that provides the foundation for long-term power system planning in the region, also noted that the 11th Forward Capacity Market auction (FCA #11), held in February, procured sufficient resources to meet resource adequacy criteria through 2021, with about 264 MW of new generation and 640 MW of new demand side resources. Those numbers, ISO-NE added, include 515 MW of new energy efficiency, 6 MW of new wind, and 5 MW of new solar.

The RSP17 further noted that from 2010 to summer 2020, power plant retirements will total about 4,800 MW, with older oil- and coal-fired, as well as nuclear generators, being at risk of retirement due to economic and environmental pressures.

Those retiring resources are likely to be replaced by natural gas-fired power plants and renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, ISO-NE added, noting that as of April, about 12,899 MW of resources had applied to connect to the region’s high-voltage power system though, historically, the interconnection queue has had an attrition rate of 68% of the megawatts proposed. The most reliable and economic place for resource development remains in southern New England near load centers, ISO-NE said.

In addition, the RSP17 noted that while the region is projected to have sufficient resources to meet capacity requirements and adequate transmission facilities to meet reliability criteria, fuel security remains a primary issue that the region must resolve to meet its energy supply needs.

The limited availability of the natural gas transportation infrastructure to supply gas to generating units can present fuel security risks to the region, particularly during winter operating conditions, even as the use of natural gas as a primary fuel for generating units is projected to grow, ISO-NE said.

The ISO noted that it is conducting an operational fuel security analysis to quantify the region’s risk and the results will be discussed with stakeholders next year.

On solar, the RSP17 noted that PV resources totaled 1,918 MW nameplate capacity by the end of last year. The ISO added that its multistate forecast of PV growth projects that by the end of 2026, PV will grow to 4,733 MW in nameplate capacity and produce about 6,200 GWh of energy that year. PV resources are estimated to reduce summer peak loads by 575 MW this year, with that number rising to 1,035 MW in 2026. The ISO added that the growth of behind-the-meter resources, which it cannot observe or dispatch in real-time, continues to add complexity to system operations.

Regarding wind energy, the RSP17 noted that the region has 1,300 MW of installed wind facilities, and about 5,400 MW more have been proposed as of April. Most of the wind projects built or under consideration are in remote areas of the region where the wind conditions are good, but where the transmission network was built to serve low levels of area load and is at its performance limit, the ISO added.

Those conditions have led to a backlog of projects in northern and western Maine, given the need for wind developers to build costly transmission upgrades to connect their projects to the regional grid, the ISO said.

The ISO noted that it has developed and filed with FERC a set of revisions to the interconnection procedures aimed at resolving that backlog by allowing project developers to share the costs of upgrades. Furthermore, as the amount of wind generation grows, operational forecasts and dispatch control of that variable energy resource take on increasing importance, the ISO said.

Energy storage technology is developing rapidly, with increasing levels of participation in the wholesale markets expected over the next decade as the technology’s costs decline, according to the RSP17. The region’s first grid-scale battery system, a 16-MW facility at Yarmouth Station in Maine, was placed online last year, the ISO said, adding that it continues to identify and address other issues to prepare for the large-scale development of energy storage and other advanced technologies.

On transmission, the RSP17 noted that from 2002 through June, 730 transmission projects to address reliability needs were put into service in the region, representing an $8.4bn investment in new infrastructure that improves system reliability and reduces costly congestion on the high-voltage transmission system.

As of June, about $4bn in transmission investment for reliability was planned, the RSP17 noted. While the overall need for major transmission projects for reliability is expected to decline over the 10-year planning horizon, integrating large-scale renewable energy resources are potential drivers for future transmission investments, the ISO added.

As noted in the RSP17, as of this past summer, the Maine Power Reliability Program, New Hampshire/Vermont 2020 Upgrades, and the New England East-West Solution (NEEWS) suite of projects are complete or nearing completion. In addition, SWCT (RSP subarea for southwestern Connecticut), Greater Hartford/Central Connecticut (part of NEEWS), Pittsfield and Greenfield, Greater Boston, and SEMA (RSP subarea comprising southeastern Massachusetts and Newport, R.I.; southeastern Massachusetts load zone; active-demand-resource dispatch zone)/RI (state of Rhode Island; RSP subarea that includes the part of Rhode Island bordering Massachusetts; Rhode Island load zone; Rhode Island active-demand-resource dispatch zone) have identified projects to solve needs found in their study areas.

Those reliability upgrade projects will bolster the 345-kV and 115-kV facilities of the New England transmission system, the RSP17 added, noting that study work remains to be done in the Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and eastern Connecticut areas.

On interregional planning, the RSP17 noted that the ISO participates in national and interregional planning activities, developing coordinated system plans with other regions. Particularly close coordination continues with the New York ISO and PJM Interconnection, the ISO added.

According to the RSP17, since May 2015, ISO-NE began implementing changes to the regional and interregional transmission planning process to comply with the directives in FERC Order No. 1000. As of this past summer, the ISO has not identified any regional non-time-sensitive system need that requires a request for proposals (RFP) soliciting competitive bids to solve the need. The public policy process began in January and concluded in June, with a finding that a public policy transmission study will not be pursued in this public policy planning cycle, the RSP17 added.

Many new elective transmission upgrades have been proposed, focusing on delivering zero or low-carbon resources to the region, the RSP17 said, noting that as of June 1, four projects are under study as elective transmission upgrades, and three have received their proposed plan application approval.

According to the RSP17, as of April 1, 15 projects have active interconnection requests as elective transmission upgrades, including: Queue Project (QP)-498, which is a 400-MW, 150-kV HVDC tie from a New York Power Authority (NYPA) 230/115-kV substation to the Vermont Electric Power Company (VELCO) 345-kV New Haven substation; QP-499, which is a 1,090-MW, 300-kV HVDC/AC tie from the Hydro-Québec Balancing Authority Area (HQ) Des Cantons substation to the Public Service of New Hampshire (PSNH) Deerfield substation; and QP-501, which is a 1,000-MW HVDC tie (import only) from an HQ 735-kV substation to the VELCO 345-kV Coolidge substation.

About Corina Rivera-Linares 3235 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.