By Amanda Durish Cook
CARMEL, Ind. — MISO’s new annual report on future trends offers few specifics on the future resource mix and how the RTO will manage renewables growth and continued turnover in the resource stack.
But it does include a plethora of suggestions for market changes that could ease the transition to a still hard-to-pin-down future fleet.
Speaking during an April 9 workshop focusing on the report, MISO Consulting Adviser of Market Design Kim Sperry likened the RTO’s future uncertainty to the small row of electric vehicle charging stations in the parking lot of its Carmel headquarters. She said it remains to be seen whether every parking spot will one day host a charging station.
Sperry asked stakeholders in the room if they thought MISO’s previously identified industry trends of demarginalization, digitalization and decentralization will continue. (See Overheard at MISO Market Symposium.) Most of the about 20 attendees raised their hands, with an enthusiastic Jeff Beattie of Consumers Energy raising both.
“What’s the fleet of 2030? It can be a huge range of possibilities,” MISO Senior Manager of Market Strategy Mia Adams said.
MISO previewed its Forward Report last month by identifying three areas of focus: increasing the deliverability and availability of resources, bettering system flexibility and improving its visibility of distributed energy resources. (See MISO: Winter Emergency Another Signal for Grid Ops Change.)
The RTO said it may suggest scarcity pricing, a 15-minute day-ahead market, more storage integration efforts, modeling smart inverters in planning and collaboration with distribution operators so it can anticipate DER contributions. In the report, MISO CEO John Bear said the RTO recognized “seismic changes” affecting the energy industry at the end of 2017.
The report is part of MISO’s new Integrated Roadmap process, which combines the old Market Roadmap list of prioritized market improvements with more research and reporting on industry trends and the annual publication of an insights and strategy report to explain how major trends might affect RTO operations. (See “MISO Rebrands Market Roadmap,” Committee Considers Ways to Streamline MISO Meetings.) MISO is currently asking for new idea submissions for the Integrated Roadmap through May 1. The RTO will send out a stakeholder prioritization survey in June, and the Integrated Roadmap will be finalized in early November.
Sperry said that as multiple smaller generating plants replace large baseload plants and more customers install their own generation, MISO will need stronger resource ramping capability. She said solar and wind generation add more variability to an operating day with more peaks and troughs and steeper ramps as the wind picks up or clouds gather. A resource mix containing 20% each of wind and solar generation could require more than 10 GW of ramping ability in either direction within a few hours. MISO currently requires about a maximum 5-GW ramping capability in either direction.
“There’s much more movement occurring throughout the operating day,” Sperry said of a future with more renewable generation.
Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission staffer Dave Johnston asked if MISO has a method of measuring and predicting its zero-cost bid offers, which would drive the need for ramping. Sperry said MISO does collect data on zero-cost energy but must be mindful of confidential and proprietary information.
Adams said zero-cost energy does raise the question of whether a market based on locational marginal prices will continue to be appropriate. She said MISO may devise “more discreet revenue streams for market participants.”
“With old generation, we didn’t think about essential reliability services. Now we have to think about essential reliability service, so we might need a new market product,” Minnesota Public Utilities Commission staff member Hwikwom Ham said.
Sperry agreed and said future solutions should reconsider “planning all the way through markets and settlements.”
Forecasting and DER Visibility
Sperry said MISO also realizes it may soon have to stop forecasting load using historical averages as a basis.
“As the portfolio changes, that historical information is going to be a little less accurate,” she said.
“If we just had the same mix of coal and gas thermal units, but they were decentralized, would MISO still see a risk?” Johnston asked.
Adams said MISO’s lack of visibility into distributed resources, not necessarily the decentralization itself, carries the most significant planning and operations risk.
But Ham said MISO doesn’t need total visibility into distributed resources, just more open lines of communication. “MISO doesn’t need to see everything. It just needs to be communicating with the distribution companies,” Ham said.
But Adams countered that more volatility in load will require a response from the bulk electric system, most likely in the form of more flexibility to simultaneously accommodate distributed and more traditional resources.
Johnston asked exactly where MISO draws the line between utility-scale and distributed generation. “We all use this term utility-scale. Can anyone tell me what utility-scale means?” Johnston asked.
Sperry said she didn’t have a “firm” megawatt number and pointed out that even FERC rules vary in terms of what it means for generation to reach utility-scale output.
“It can be 100 kW in terms of storage resources, and I think we’re seeing things in our interconnection queue as low as 1 or 5 MW,” Sperry said.
Johnston said he found the report frustrating for its lack of detailed resource estimates. “I want to know what the problem is. I want to know how many resources are self-scheduling and bidding in at zero. … I don’t know what MISO sees. … What’s the situation now in MISO?” Johnston said.
Adams said the report is based in part on utilities’ future resource plans and that while MISO does foresee significant fleet change, the report is not an attempt to quantify the change. The report, she said, is a starting point in the stakeholder process to begin discussion on needed changes.
“We also know it’s going to take a long time to start to change our markets,” Adams said.
She also said MISO currently lacks the specifics to measure DER participation in its footprint.
“We have no DER visibility, and that’s been fine so far because there’s been very little volatility,” she said.
But Adams pointed out that MISO still needs more data and must figure out how detailed new data on intermittent and emerging technologies should be.
“Do we have to detail down to every asset and every smart thermostat? Well that seems a little out of control,” Adams said.