MISO and SPP planners discussed the prospects of the Joint Targeted Interconnection Queue (JTIQ) projects during a Tuesday infrastructure session of the Missouri Energy Initiative’s Midwest Energy Policy Series.
The seven projects in the $1.65-billion JTIQ portfolio are projected to resolve 48 reliability constraints and enable 11.1 GW of generation projects on SPP’s side of the RTOs’ seam and 17.5 GW of projects on the MISO side. The grid operators are hoping to receive the portfolio’s approval by the second half of 2023, but they first must hammer out a cost-allocation methodology for the projects. (See Now, the Hard Part: MISO, SPP Tackle JTIQ Cost Allocation.)
“Unfortunately, we’re not quite over the hump just yet. … We still have to figure the cost allocation to get these projects built,” MISO Director of Resource Utilization Andy Witmeier told attendees.
But both he and SPP’s Neil Robertson, senior engineer of interregional relations, agreed that the study has been a success so far.
Robertson said planners were given a “free hand” in developing the study, “unique” among their interregional planning, which is usually scripted according to their joint operating agreement.
Witmeier agreed that planners were given a “blank page” to study the transmission needs of multiple generator interconnection cycles in the RTOs’ queues.
Robertson said staff are trying to distribute costs based on the projects’ beneficiaries, including MISO load, SPP load, and interconnection customers on either side of the seam whose generation will flow between the footprints.
“We continue the theme of the free hand in developing innovative solutions here,” Robertson said of a cost-sharing design.
Witmeier said the grid operators’ “guiding principle” of cost allocation will underscore the study’s aim to maximize capacity additions. He said while the two might consider assigning costs based on added benefits like increased flows or more economic dispatch, they will be secondary and fleshed out later.
Witmeier also said project duplicates between the JTIQ and MISO’s regional long-range transmission plan (LRTP) emphasize the projects’ necessity. MISO has decided that it will independently pursue 345-kV LRTP projects in North Dakota and Minnesota before they are included in the JTIQ study. With the two projects, the JTIQ portfolio would be reduced to about $1 billion. (See MISO Stakeholders Uneasy Over Long-range Tx, JTIQ Overlap.)
“It certainly means that it’s transmission that needs to be built now,” Witmeier said of the LRTP projects. He said MISO has decided it needs the lines now, rather than later, to reliably serve load, support new generation, and keep pace with members’ changing resource portfolios.
“We see benefits to these projects now,” he said, noting that MISO already has worked out a cost-allocation design for the LRTP.
The planners acknowledged that the RTOs’ results differ in how much new generation the JTIQ portfolio can facilitate. They said they used their respective planning models and generation dispatch assumptions to estimate gigawatt amounts.
“This was not what in the planning world we would call a common model study,” Robertson said. “We did not collectively develop a single model that both organizations performed analyses on. We levered our regional model processes.”
Had the RTOs tried to develop a common model, Witmeier said, “we’d still be doing the analysis today.” He said creating a common model would be too time-consuming to meet their 18-month study timetable.
The planners also said the JTIQ study forced them to pivot from a “first-come, first-served” queue priority approach to a “first-ready, first-served” method.
Witmeier said MISO is still processing applications that were submitted in 2019 and 2020, while SPP is working on interconnection requests submitted in 2017. In some cases, MISO interconnection customers that entered the queue in 2018 are already signing generator interconnection agreements, the final step before grid access.
“It doesn’t make sense for our projects to be held up by the projects in SPP’s queue that still haven’t been sited yet,” Witmeier said. Robertson agreed that the grid operators must “evolve” beyond the instinct that whoever lines up first must finish first.
Panel moderator and RTO Insider Editor-in-Chief Rich Heidorn asked whether MISO and SPP are worried about state commissions opposing JTIQ transmission projects.
“I feel like MISO and SPP have both been very successful in recent years in getting a significant amount of transmission expansion projects built,” Roberston said. “I can’t necessarily say it hasn’t been without its bumps in the road, but we have shown a consistent track record of success over the last, let’s say, decade or so.”
Robertson acknowledged that MISO’s and SPP’s footprints contain multiple states with right-of-first-refusal laws and the RTOs “will have to account for that.”
“We have a number of conversations ahead of us in getting to a complete cost-allocation methodology and accounting for the nuances around actually getting these facilities sited and constructed is certainly going to be a prominent component,” he said.
Heidorn also asked whether MISO was considering speeding up plans for a project that could increase MISO’s transfer capability between its Midwest and South region. He noted MISO Midwest came up short on supply in last week’s capacity auction. (See MISO’s 2022/23 Capacity Auction Lays Bare Shortfalls in Midwest.)
Witmeier said MISO is discussing the potential of accelerating the study of potential projects. The RTO is not planning to address Midwest-South transfer projects until the final cycle of its four-part LRTP. (See MISO Seeking New Tx Cost Allocation for Major Buildout.)
MISO may “pull that trigger and move that forward,” Witmeier said.
However, he said, any approved transmission project is years away from allowing increased flows between the regions.
“That’s not going to be an immediate fix,” he said.
Other series panelists predicted a raft of renewable generation, carbon capture and energy storage ubiquity in the Midwest, but they worried that lengthy interconnection queues will hold up necessary capacity.
Evergy’s Kayla Messamore said renewable technologies can’t singlehandedly meet all capacity needs. She predicted carbon capture, some nuclear generation and hydrogen generation will make up “that last 20%” of fuel resources that need to be “a little more firm.”
When asked what she would spend $1 billion on over the next five to 10 years to accelerate the energy transition, Messamore said she’d invest in a combination of wind and solar, longer-duration storage, and demand side management.
Anna Sommer of the Energy Futures Group said spiking energy prices should have more utilities focusing on demand response to control rates.
Messamore also noted that prohibitively high IC costs are limiting the generation that could interconnect to the system. She said new transmission is needed to integrate renewable generation and prevent energy price separation between regions that can’t access low-cost renewable energy.
Great Plains Institute’s (GPI) Patrice Lahlum said carbon capture and sequestration is poised for major growth.
She said that currently, 12 commercial-scale U.S. facilities capture about 25 million metric tons of CO2 annually. She said the nation’s growing carbon-management industry could deliver a 13-fold increase in CCS capacity by 2035, resulting in 210-250 million metric tons of annual emissions reductions.
Lahlum said GPI has tracked nearly 90 announced projects since 2018, with more than 50 announcements in 2021 alone.
She noted that the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act contains more than $12 billion in funding for carbon management. She said it’s up to the industry to work together and create successful projects that capture emissions as intended.
Consortium for Battery Innovation’s Matthew Raiford predicted a flourishing market for lead acid batteries. He said the advanced batteries are easily recyclable, keeping materials in a stable supply chain.
Some panelists worried about the hostility that existing renewable technology faces in the Midwest.
Renew Missouri’s James Owen said some Midwestern communities are still anxious about wind development and mount opposition campaigns over noise levels, turbine height and blinking lights.
“We still think there’s a lot of people that have a lot of misinformation,” he said.
Owen said social media is a hotbed for false narratives that influence the public and lead to restrictive ordinances.
Enel North America’s Gina Mace said combatting misinformation in communities is a major task for her company. She also agreed backlogged and time-consuming queues remain an obstacle to getting new generation built.
Mace also said though it appears transmission can support new generation, transmission construction can take the better part of a decade. She said it’s unclear how near-term generation will come online.
Owens added that he remains concerned that a state public service commission can effectively veto multistate transmission projects.