WASHINGTON (CN) – Large electric transmission providers will have to allow intra-hour scheduling of transmission on their grids to accommodate integration of variable energy generation resources such as wind and solar power that operate intermittently depending on weather conditions, according to rules proposed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
Most large transmission operators require power generators to schedule transmission on the grid to begin at the start of each hour but not at smaller intervals within the hour. The FERC has found that this practice discriminates against the integration of variable energy resources.
For wind and solar power generators, which can begin to produce power in minutes, and go-offline just as quickly if the sky clouds or winds drop, the result is an inefficient use of these resources and over reliance on base-line power generators like coal and natural gas.
The FERC proposes to allow scheduling at 15 minute intervals within each operating hour of the system. Transmission operators have said that providing at least five scheduling opportunities per hour-one every fifteen minutes within an operational hour and one for the hour ahead, would increase the complexity of their scheduling and thus the costs of their operations.
To mitigate uncertainty about when variable energy resources are likely to come online, owners of the resources would have to supply extensive data on operations and meteorological conditions to transmission operators to help them develop power production forecasting tools. Such tools would allow system operators to set aside capacity during times when variable energy resources are most likely to be brought online.
As an additional means of controlling costs for transmission service providers, the FERC plans to allow providers to incorporate reserve charges into their pricing to cover shortfalls when capacity is scheduled but not used or other imbalances occur on the grid due to variable generation. Currently such costs are determined on a case by case basis long after the transmission provider has incurred the cost.
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