If you are plugged into the energy world, you’ve heard by now about the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on FERC Order 745, which concludes that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has the jurisdictional authority to regulate the participation of demand response (DR) resources in wholesale energy markets. Continue reading »
New Transmission to Expand Midwestern Wind PowerFebruary 16, 2016 in Electricity Authors: Dane McFarlane, Matt Prorok
Note: This blog post contains three interactive maps and may take a moment to load
A set of new electric transmission lines, developed with the help of the Great Plains Institute, is under construction to connect more Midwestern wind power to large cities in the east. The Midcontinent Independent Systems Operator (MISO), which operates the electric grid in the Midwest, has been moving forward with the Multi-Value Project (MVP) portfolio since 2011. Continue reading »
Exploring Energy Storage Technology and RegulationJanuary 25, 2016 in Electricity Author: Matt Prorok
Advanced energy storage systems, like grid-scale batteries, pumped hydroelectric storage, and chemical storage have the potential to bolster renewable energy deployment, improve the efficient use of fossil-fueled power plants, reduce electricity production costs, and increase the grid’s resiliency. Continue reading »
Initiative Aims to Reinvent Utility Industry the Minnesota WayNovember 26, 2015 in Electricity Author: Jennifer Christensen
E&E Publishing’s EnergyWire featured an in-depth article, “Initiative Aims to Reinvent Utility Industry the Minnesota Way”, on the e21 Initiative which is co-convened by GPI and is working to “reinvent the utility business model and the regulations and policy that guide it.” Continue reading »
GPI Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Road TripJuly 30, 2015 in Electricity Author: Mike Gregerson
Our week long renewable energy and storage road trip started in Denver ended in Long Beach, CA. These areas are at the center of many electricity system changes brought about by California’s drive to clean energy.
We had already visited NREL’s new Energy Facilities Integration Facility (ESIF) in Golden, CO and had good meetings with Xcel Energy and RES America regarding their work in energy storage.
We also toured the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System near Las Vegas, a 3-unit solar thermal power system based on mirror and steam tower technology capable of generating over 400MW.
We then toured the Desert Sunlight Solar PV plant near Palm Springs, CA which is a pure PV play with over 8 MILLION (yes that’s Million) panels capable of generating over 500MW of electricity.
The only solar generating technology we were not able to visit was the parabolic mirror tube technology which uses either oil or molten salt to store heat and generate electricity. There are projects in Arizona and one being built in CA which would definitely be worth a visit in the future. We were very impressed by the openness and frankness of both tour guides at Ivanpah and Desert Sunlight and have a number of insights we will share in other blogs.
Finishing with a visit to AES
All of this leads us to AES Southland which is doing amazing things with energy storage and natural gas power plants in the Los Angeles area. We visited the AES Southland facility in Long Beach which currently has 6 older natural gas power plants. These are used as peaking power and system reserve capacity in a PPA with Southern California Edison (SCE).
AES has won several battery energy storage projects in CA with SCE along with new Combined Cycle Natural Gas power plants (CCNG). All of these facilities will be built at the Long Beach and Huntington Beach plant locations. AES plans on installing 100 MW of Samsung Lithium-Ion batteries at the Long Beach location. This battery installation will be capable of a 4 hour discharge and will work in concert with the natural gas facilities to serve SCE customers. AES is also designing the facility to hold up to 300MW of battery storage since the reaction of SCE planners has been very positive to the potential economic and reliability benefits of the battery storage units.
We were able to see a demonstration rack of batteries at the AES facility and it is truly amazing. The battery packs come in cardboard boxes the size of a stereo receiver and get put into a vertical rack, plugged into each other in groups of 8. Each group is then hooked up to the distribution collection grid with a set of plug in wires. AES said construction is literally done in hours for each rack.
We all felt that the AES people had a good handle on the future electric system requirements of this new distributed and clean energy system and we are hopeful that enough will be learned in the LA area to help other utilities, RTO’s and regulators become more comfortable with the options and benefits presented by an integrated renewable energy and energy storage system.
What if you, the customer, ran your electric utility? Well, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) is giving its customers the chance, rhetorically of course. Now I can’t claim to know how every utility in the country has engaged its customers, but I am not aware of another document quite like the one we just helped MGE write to explain to its customers the situation the utility faces. Continue reading »
Visiting Unique Concentrated Solar Power Facility in the DesertJuly 24, 2015 in Electricity Author: Dane McFarlane
On July 22nd, four of us from GPI visited a concentrated solar power (CSP) facility, the only one of its kind in North America, located near the Mojave Desert in Ivanpah, California. The Ivanpah facility is operated by NRG Energy and has been producing electricity since January, 2014, through a 5 mile wide network of mirrors that concentrate sunlight onto three 450 foot tall towers. Continue reading »
The Great Plains Institute is taking a road trip; a few of us decided to get out and see firsthand the changes shaping the electric industry. Continue reading »
Give wind a chance: new infrastructure needed to expand renewable energyFebruary 23, 2015 in Electricity Author: Steve Dahlke
Those who have lived in the Midwest a long time may remember the power line fights of the 1970’s, when farmers across Minnesota organized against electric transmission development. One large project required deployment of half of Minnesota’s highway patrol troopers to complete construction. One reason for the controversy back then was infrastructure projects were planned behind closed doors with minimal regulatory oversight. Continue reading »