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ISO New England's Regional System Plan is missing key factors affecting future capacity

image credit: ISO New England

The ISO New England 2019 Regional System Plan is now available for public review. A significant portion of the report, and its accompanying Overview Presentation contain exactly the type of technical analysis you would expect. Some of the data in the presentation appears to be somewhat dated, for example slide 14 contains solar production data from April of 2018, raising the question, why wasn't 2019 data used, which would have depicted even greater solar production, from the additional resources that have come online since April, 2018. But the use of older data is only one of the issues that raises concerns.

Conspicuously absent from the report is any mention of the impact from massive amounts of new capacity coming online from "out of market" capacity exchanges used by Consumers, such as REBA and Level Ten, and State based initiatives to achieve higher contributions from renewable resources over the coming years. This is particularly concerning given a recent report from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables indicating “the contracted pipeline of projects now standing at a historic 37.9 gigawatts”. Senior solar analyst, Colin Smith called the growth in corporate solar deals particularly striking.

These “out of market” activities within Capacity Exchanges are important factors affecting available capacity that receives no mention within ISONE’s 2019 regional system plan (based on the ISONE supplied links above). This raises questions as to whether or not these important, “out of market” factors were considered by ISO-NE when the plan was created. At the very least, it would be helpful to know if ISO New England is factoring in these important variables in their planning activities, and if they are, provide some insights into the impact these factors had on their system planning projections.

Richard Brooks's picture

Thank Richard for the Post!

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 18, 2019 1:32 pm GMT

Do you think these missing factors were left out deliberately or were simply oversights? Since this is currently in public review, do you plan to submit comments on these issues, Dick?

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Sep 18, 2019 1:54 pm GMT

I've already notified ISO New England of my comments.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 18, 2019 9:49 pm GMT

I had figured as much!

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Sep 20, 2019 2:08 pm GMT

Google annoucned another 1,600 MW of green capacity across 52 projects. It would be insightful for ISO-NE to devote a section in their RSP to the "Green Buyer" projects planned for New England States to provide some sense of the impact these "out of market" Green Buyer activities are having on future capacity additions and ISO-NE's future capacity purchases.

Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on Sep 20, 2019 8:56 pm GMT

Thanks for sharing-- another great example of how the corporate giants (who have long been the entities with largest carbon footprints) are actively the entities that can do the most to move the market

Paul Chernick's picture
Paul Chernick on Sep 23, 2019 9:03 pm GMT

To the extent that the renewables participate in the Forward Capacity Market (which large central projects usually do), they would be reflected in the ISO's projection of genertion. And the ISO tries to net out BTM solar, although that effort tends to low-ball future additions.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Sep 24, 2019 3:08 pm GMT

Paul, it boils down to the legitimacy of paying for availability of electricity at a specific time in the future, when there is no assurance it will be delivered.

Rewarding unreliable wind and solar, for their reliability.

When someone feels they can justify this hideous scam to ratepayers, I'd love to hear it. Again, not holding my breath.

Richard Brooks's picture
Richard Brooks on Sep 24, 2019 7:17 pm GMT

Thanks for responding Paul. It's true that some large central projects participate in the FCM, however there are lots of other projects that are taking place in Capacity Exchanges, like REBA and Level Ten Energy, which do not seem to be factored into the ISO's calculus (i.e. some portion of REBA's 60 GW by 2030), based on the lack of coverage for this supply chain reality in the draft RSP 2019. Another important factor, which seems to be missing in ISO-NE's analysis, is the impact of State based commitments to eliminate carbon by 2050, and how the supply chain must evolve in order to meet these State targets. The report mentions specific projects underway in States, but I didn't see any analysis from ISO-NE on what it would take to hit the New England States energy targets for renewables up through 2050.

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