Monday, February 18, 2019

Advisory Committee Steps up Criticism of MISO Forecast Plan

By Amanda Durish Cook

NEW ORLEANS — MISO Advisory Committee members last week criticized the RTO’s plan to revamp load forecasting using projections from load-serving entities, saying the amount of data needed is nearly impossible to provide.

Speaking at a March 28 Advisory Committee meeting, Planning Advisory Committee Chair Cynthia Crane said that while MISO must revise its independent load forecast to accommodate growth of distributed resources and changing load shapes, the RTO’s 140-plus LSEs have concerns over how to provide four 20-year forward forecasts using four sets of future assumptions from the Transmission Expansion Plan.

“If you do the math, you’re talking 98 million data points, and there’s the question of how MISO is going to organize all of that,” Crane said, using a calculation of 8,760 hours per year for 20 years across the four MTEP futures.

Wisconsin Public Service’s Chris Plante said he wasn’t convinced that MISO needs that level of detail for transmission planning.

MISO Advisory Committee load-serving entities LSEs

Wisersky (left) and Plante | © RTO Insider

“I started my utility life out as a load forecaster. … If I could forecast 8,760 hours for 20 years over four futures, I wouldn’t be in this room,” joked Madison Gas and Electric’s Megan Wisersky. “When I’m told this will improve the planning process, I just laugh,” adding that she doubted that current third-party load forecaster Purdue University provides the same level of detail.

“We’re not going to add staff for such a meaningless exercise,” Wisersky said of her fellow LSEs.

MISO has said it might replace its current independent load forecast prepared by Purdue’s State Utility Forecasting Group with data compiled by LSEs to produce the forecast that informs transmission planning, an effort that will require LSEs to annually assemble four different 20-year load forecasts to fit with each MTEP future. The approach is one of two MISO is vetting to improve its load forecasts. If LSEs decide they cannot collect that level of information, the RTO will continue its practice of hiring a contractor to put together a load forecast. (See Members Skeptical as MISO Explores LSE Load Forecasting.)

Plante said it’s difficult for members to make an informed decision until stakeholders know how much MISO pays Purdue for its independent load forecast. He wondered if the alternative plan would save the RTO any money.

“We see this as an opportunity to try to offset some of these increases we see in the [operations and maintenance] budget year to year,” he said.

Crane pointed out that all other RTOs use an independent load forecast to guide transmission planning.

“I’ll sound like my mother here: Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean you should,” Wisersky said.

MISO staff did not provide comment at the meeting, although Executive Director of System Planning Aubrey Johnson took notes on the members’ reactions and promised to deliver a report to RTO planners.