Train Wreck — Transmission for wind (NOT)

Filed under:Reports - Documents — posted by admin on June 11, 2008 @ 6:36 am

We know CapX 2020 isn’t for wind, even Tim Carlsgaard admits that he can’t say that it’s for wind…

Here are a couple of things that arrived in the inbox recently about this, a little light reading for a summer morning.

The first one is from my favorite utility toady, Ed Garvey, “Director and Acting Reliability Administrator” of the Minnesota Office of Energy Security. Garvey is the one who’s been interceding on the Mesaba Project and Big Stone transmission and who knows what else, and if his name is on it, that’s enough to put up my red flags… This one, well here it is:

Potential for and Barriers to State Interconnection Jurisdiction

It starts with a legal analysis, with a lead-in that’s factually incorrect and drawing conclusions about the cause of the MISO backlog of transmission interconnection requests, saying, really, dig this, “… much of which is due to a lack of sufficient existing transmission capability to support the explosion of wind-powered electric generation projects proposed in response to State policies…” Earth to Mars, folks, the backlog is due to the massive amounts of generation in queue and utility and developer desire for bulk power transfer, which is straining the system which is designed, a perfectly adequate system for serving local load and shifting power around during outages. There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and it is a train headed for Garvey and his absurd proposal — at the very end are the comments of Rick Gonzalez, who, though he’s usually on “the other side,” always tells it like it is:

There is only one power system. To suggest that there can be multiple “on-ramps” within the same geographic area, just at different voltage levels, each with different interconnection procedures, makes little sense… To carry the highway analogy one step further, there is a rather obvious reason why each car has only one steering wheel, and one set of pedals.

… to suggest that circumventing the MISO interconnection process will somehow allow for significant amounts of new generation to be reliably connected sooner, is wishful thinking. The fundamental problem is that we do not have adequate transmission system capability to accommodate most of the proposed or potential new generation, nor do we have agreement on how much capability we should be planning for, or when to implement it.

Making it easier to connect new generation in an essentially unsupervised manner outside of the organized interconnection process will not help; rather, it is an invitation to a “train wreck” type of situation with respect to system reliability, safety, and economy, and also is totally contrary to the chronological queue management concept mandated by FERC…

… In summary, the concept of having some sort of alternative interconnection process certainly has a certain allure to it, given the frustrating situation we’re in (and have created for ourselves with FERC’s help). However, the physical realities of the power system do not yield to legalistic arguments regarding jurisdiction. Since the challenge is primarily a technical one, it is unlikely the solution will be found in the legal field.

Yup, that about sums it up… It seems to me that what’s at issue here is that there’s a lot of coal waiting in queue, enough to gobble up any transmission added, i.e. CapX 2020, and wind is looking for a way to jump ahead of its place in queue. Am I missing something here?

Here’s another report that was in the Google Alerts today:

Optimizing Wind Transmission from Distant Wind Farms

This one I haven’t read yet… but here’s one punch line from p. 3:

Using current estimates of the cost of a wind turbine and the cost of a transmission line, we estimate that the cost of delivered power from a wind farm with about 33% capacity that is locate (sic) 1,000 miles from the customer will be about $150/MWh with almost 2/3 of the cost due to transmission. This cost does not include measures to solve the moment to moment variability of wind turbine output or the intermittency of output.

Seems to me that this is saying that it makes no economic sense to transmit wind over long distances. yeah, tell me something new…

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image: detail of installation by Bronwyn Lace