MISO-West Cuts Renewable Resource Projects in Pursuance of Continuous Transmission System Upgrades

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In a world that’s increasingly seeing the need for connection through alternative mediums, such as distributed generation, many big-time grid energy operators are choosing to collectively cutback on their renewable resource projects. One such company, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), has actively suspended 3.5 GW of renewable projects in the Western portion of their queue this year. Why? The need for transmission system upgrades are said to be tedious, continuous and expensive.

Anytime any kind of significant development happens within a project, we look to the energy stakeholders for more information. But, as we’re all too familiar with, these particular “breakthrough development happenings” often don’t result in any work actually being done on such projects.

For MISO, this has been all too real. With over 50 GW solar projects awaiting interconnection, most of these renewable projects are in danger of never starting. Reason being? Required transmission system upgrades.

This news comes as somewhat of a shock after two successful projects completed in recent years. One project in mind, initiated back in 2011 (and since completed) is by the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. The ERCOT recognized the need to upgrade and improve transmissions, delivering power through new renewable resources, like wind. Named Multi-Value transmission line project, (MVP) this project is said to carry 25 GW in solar capacity. Also worth mentioning is another smaller project, CapX2020. This joint initiative of 11 transmission-owning utility companies in Minnesota and the surrounding areas has also been completed, amounting in 3.6 GW of wind power.

So, what’s the problem? Specifically, a series of 5 GW solar projects in the Upper Midwest. These projects have been cut in half, down to 1.5 GW. While being in the infant stages, they were still partially funded, with several of them having power purchase agreements in place. For MISO, this results in precious time and effort wasted as well as a significant amount of money lost. The Clean Grid Alliance, who analyzed these MISO solar projects, estimates the losses at around $100 million. This number may seem more appealing when presented with the Production Tax credit that was lost by canceling these solar projects. We’re seeing costs totaling $1 billion with an additional $15 million annually divided up between landowner payments.

The need for distributed generation is ever present—the world needs more resilient and reliable forms of energy. Companies like Gridworks and GridLab have done extensive research, outlining the positives of distributed energy resources, claiming to be able to power the state of New Jersey. With arguments like these present, we are hopeful that renewable projects will continue to thrive, with the cutbacks decreasing overtime.

Here at Intersect Energy, we’re an on-site energy company that has developed many solar, CHP, fuel cell and wind projects. All our projects are done with the highest quality materials and our team of expert technicians provide the best craftsmanship to wholly maximize economic benefits for our clients. We believe in the importance of distributed generation and offer turn-key energy solutions to reduce operating costs and sources of local green energy. To keep up with all the latest news in the world of renewable energy, make sure to follow us on LinkedIn!

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