Archive for the ‘Variable Energy Resources’ Category

FERC Helps Renewables’ Transmission to Electrical Grid

Photo by Peter Craine. Some rights reserved.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently finalized a rule helping integrate Variable Energy Resources (VERs) into the US electric system. VERs are electricity generators that produce output that is not constant and controllable over time, sources like wind and solar. The existing electrical grid was designed with steady electricity generation sources in mind, and FERC’s Order No. 764 is an attempt to efficiently incorporate renewable resources into grid operations in the US by making power transmission from generator to grid more flexible.

Though renewables with variable generation are claiming a greater portion of electricity generation, the new rules could improve transmission scheduling flexibility for both VERs and traditional sources. The grid’s current setup challenges both renewable generators who struggle to work within grid rules designed for constant sources and for grid operators trying to incorporate hard-to-predict electricity sources.

The problems for VERs in the electrical grid are many. We have written about the Bonneville Power Administration struggling to cope with simultaneous surges in wind and hydroelectric power during storms, forcing it to give away or dump excess electricity. FERC’s new rule aims to help transmission from renewables to the grid in recognition of one of these problems. Under current rules, VERs incur high charges for supplying electricity in an amount above or below that committed to for each hour-long interval. With FERC’s change to scheduling transmissions in 15-minute intervals, VERs will be better able to match their committed transmission to actual output and avoid the imbalance penalties.

You can read Davis Wright Tremaine’s full advisory to learn about FERC’s Meteorological and Outage data changes, and a post of ours with background information about the new rules from November.

Bi-Partisan energy bill would regulate household appliances, save consumers billions in utility bills

Photo by Flickr user d00d. Some Rights Reserved.

Senator Jeff Bingaman’s (D-N.M.) announcement today that he would not be running for re-election is already causing speculation as to how this will affect the Democrat’s chances of holding a slim majority in the Senate after 2012. Before his exit, though, the five-term Senator, who is also the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman, has more pressing energy matters on his desk.

Bingaman’s office last Friday proposed a bill, one of many bi-partisan energy bills that flooded Congress this week as they prepare to take a week-long recess, dubbed the “Implementation of National Consensus Appliance Agreements Act of 2011” (or INCAAA). INCAAA would provide funding to make a wide range of commonly used home appliances (air conditioners, heaters, refrigerators washers & dryers, etc.) more energy efficient. It would also serve to regulate standards for outdoor lighting, swimming pool heaters, and drinking water dispensers.

According to a post on the NRDC’s blog championing the bill as a “win-win-win scenario” for consumers, manufacturers and efficient energy advocates alike, the standards set by the bill would save $43 billion for consumers annually, plus enough energy to provide for 4.6 million typical American families. This would amount to net savings of $300 billion, or $2800 per American household, by 2030, an impressive statistic that looks even more appealing when you factor in the creation of new jobs and the net positive environmental effect. In a statement made on the House Floor last week, Bingaman said that the bill and its bi-partisan support “represents government at its best, as a catalyst, bringing together stakeholders on consensus solutions to complex problems.”

A helpful section by section summary of the bill is available on the Senate committee’s website, for those interested in a closer examination of it’s particulars.

FERC Issues Study of Frequency Response Metrics and Variable Renewable Generation

Late last week FERC announced the release of a FERC-initiated, FERC-funded, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory-conducted study that develops “an objective methodology to evaluate the reliability impacts of varying resource mixes including increased amounts of renewable resources.”

Photo by Zuzu. Some rights reserved.

The study, “Use of Frequency Response Metrics to Assess the Planning and Operating Requirements for Reliable Integration of Variable Renewable Generation” (supporting documents for which can be found here) examines the potential impact on frequency response of adding variable resources like wind power to the grid. “Frequency response” measures the ability of a bulk power system to respond to a change in system frequency, such as a sudden loss of generation that could cause blackouts.

However, the purpose of the study was less to specifically determine the impact, and rather, as a part of its analysis, identify and test metrics for measuring the adequacy of frequency response, which will be useful for “operating and planning a reliable system with increased amounts of variable renewable generation.”

A Van Ness Feldman Alert on the topic posits that FERC will use the study, and subsequent comments from stakeholders, to “refine its policies governing reliability and the integration of variable generation resources.” The Alert also suggests that stakeholders may use the study “to support positions filed in response to the Commission’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking addressing the Integration of Variable Energy Resources.”

Comments on the study may be submitted here under Docket AD11-08-000 by March 7, 2011.

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