WIREs is BAAAAAAAAAACK!

Filed under:Uncategorized — posted by admin on December 27, 2008 @ 1:29 pm

Remember “WIREs?”  The Wisconsin Interface Reliability Enhancement Study:

This was the “final cut” of a much larger group of transmission projects studied in the late 90s by the greatest and biggest and bestest group of transmission engineers ever assembled between the covers of such a small little study — which “studied” a dozen or more transmission projects to see which would be the “be all and end all” of transmission, and of them, they selected that ONE project to be built — 3j, the Arrowhead transmission line.  Well, since then, most of the others proposed then have been applied for, so much for the be all and end all.

WIREs is back, but it’s different.  What’s fun about it, though, is that it explains the philosophy behind CapX 2020 and all the regional transmission they want to build.

The new WIRES is WORKING GROUP FOR INVESTMENT IN RELIABLE AND ECONOMIC ELECTRIC SYSTEMS.

Their mission?

OUR MISSION

Under our Bylaws, all WIRES members “share the goal of promoting electric transmission” including WIRES’ mission:

1.  to provide a forum within which owners, investors, and customers of electric transmission in the North American energy market can promote a legal and public policy climate, as well as a public understanding, which encourages development of a robust high-voltage transmission grid and
2. to ensure a uniform high level of reliable service and economic efficiency in wholesale electricity transactions through a portfolio of transmission solutions…

…or try this one on for size:

The creation of WIRES is a response to a growing need for transmission infrastructure investment and the related need to highlight policies essential to support that investment. Getting the right policies in place depends on viewing transmission as (1) integral to an efficient wholesale power system, (2) critical to effectively functioning markets, (3) a way to bring choice, fuel diversity, and system flexibility to power markets and customers, and (4) an area where investment in new technologies can often expand the capacity or efficiency of the grid without siting new linear facilities.

There was some interesting testimony about where the money was coming from for the CapX project… Laura McCarten testified that CapX was working with Lehman Brothers!!!  SNORT!  WIRES has this to say about capital:

Why isn’t transmission getting the financial backing it needs? And how will WIRES help improve capital attraction for transmission?

Transmission is becoming a more attractive investment but there are regulatory and execution risks that are slowing the infusion of capital needed to keep pace with the foreseeable increases in electrical demand and the competition for customers. Transmission investors need a more certain risk/reward equation when it comes to cost allocation, rates, and the siting of facilities; they too often conclude that they should invest elsewhere when faced with tying up resources for years in a process with an uncertain financial outcome. This is simply not acceptable; the stability and reliability of the electric grid is critical to the quality of electric service and the success of regional economies.

WIRES will emphasize the broad benefits of transmission: facilitation of regional markets, the critical link to renewable and other remote energy sources, high levels of reliability, and efficient use ofexisting generation capacity. Decision makers need to recognize that transmission costs represent only a small – less than 10 percent – portion of customers’ electricity bills.

Less than 10%?  Methinks that if they have their way and this transmission that will change, no?  Cost recovery is a big purpose of WIRES…

Will Kaul, of GRE, testified before the Senate, where he clarifies the point of CapX and legislative changes they pushed through (remember Will Kaul – he’s the guy who announced Big Stone II transmission as the first part of CapX – Kaul CapX letter – Sept 6 2005 – BSII):

William Kaul – Testimony before Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Hearing- June 17, 2008

The legislative changes in Minnesota included addressing the issues of regulatory lag in cost recovery for investor-owned utilities, giving regional reliability and the electricity market due consideration in the certificate of need process, placing all transmission permitting within the purview of a single state agency and allowing for the transfer of transmission assets into a Transco if deemed in the public interest by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.

And of course, here’s the plan for CapX, per “Transmission Projects at a Glance” from Edison Electric Institute, p. 57:

Looks like a transmission superhighway for coal to me!  Here’s the full report:

EEI\’s Transmission Projects At a Glance (see p. 57-58; 59)

Look at the SW 345kV line on p. 59 and note how it connects into the map above at the top of this post… funny how that works:




image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace