The Midwest region’s grid operator projects stability this summer but noted that long-term reliability will depend on new enhancements to the electric system.
The results of Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s (MISO) 2023-24 Planning Resource Auction indicate there is sufficient generation capacity to meet forecasted peak electricity demand for the planning year which spans from June 1, 2023, to May 31, 2024.
In early May, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) published a report indicating the MISO grid reliability forecast improved from last year but stressed that a continued long-term focus on reliability remains critical.
“This year’s results are encouraging and indicate that the new seasonal approach to resource planning is a step in the right direction,” said Clair Moeller, president and chief operating officer at MISO. “As we navigate an unprecedented transformation of the power system, we must continue to make further enhancements to maintain reliability and send the right pricing signals to the market.”
Last summer, MISO approved a $10.3 billion portfolio of 18 high-voltage transmission line projects aimed at ensuring overall reliability for the coming decades as the region continues to transition from fossil-fuel based power generation to more renewable energy. One of those projects, the Northland Reliability Project, is being built by Great River Energy and Minnesota Power. The 180-mile, 345-kilovolt transmission line project is needed to ensure continued reliability in northern and central Minnesota.
MISO is expected to identify a second portfolio of regional projects to further enhance reliability. Great River Energy is actively participating in these transmission planning efforts and helping to identify future transmission alternatives.
While MISO has responsibility for planning overall grid reliability, load-serving entities like Great River Energy are ultimately responsible for implementing the requirements of those plans.
“Great River Energy meets MISO’s seasonal capacity requirements for its members’ and customers’ load each year and we offer our generation resources to MISO’s energy market every day,” said Great River Energy Market Strategy and Operations Director Greg Padden. “These measures contribute to the overall reliability of the MISO region.”
Great River Energy performs detailed maintenance every year on its fleet of natural gas and fuel oil powered “peaking” power plants in preparation for high-demand days on the electric system. These plants can produce electricity in a matter of minutes when needed, and typically operate at times of greatest need on the grid.
Great River Energy designs, plans and operates a system of transmission lines that can handle high heat and elevated electricity demand. The cooperative also works with its member-owners to reduce electricity use through voluntary load management programs that provide relief to the electric grid while also saving members money.
“We also spend considerable time and attention planning and investing in reliability for decades into the future,” Padden said.
A proposed project at Great River Energy’s Cambridge Station peaking generation facility would provide access to a backup fuel at critical times. Great River Energy is seeking approval to operate the power plant with fuel oil, which will ensure it remains available to support grid reliability during long, cold winter nights when natural gas can become constrained.
Great River Energy also recently submitted its long-range integrated resource plan to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that details the cooperative’s commitment and actions to reliably meet member-owners’ energy needs in a cost-effective and environmentally responsible way for the next 15 years.