Wednesday, January 23, 2019

MISO Moving to Combat Shifting Resource Availability

By Amanda Durish Cook

MISO last week laid out how it will tackle changing resource availability and needs in its footprint ahead of the release of a white paper on the issue.

The RTO told stakeholders it will focus on four key areas: resource accreditation, the annual capacity auction, outage scheduling and its own expectations for resource availability.

Bladen | © RTO Insider

MISO Executive Director of Market Development Jeff Bladen said the project will aim to determine how the RTO can more efficiently turn committed capacity into available energy in a climate of diminishing reserve margins and growing use of intermittent resources.

“[This] is about making sure we can meet operating needs every hour of every day,” Bladen said during an Aug. 3 Reliability Subcommittee meeting. “This is becoming more critical as we see a narrowing gap between load and resources, which have increased the occurrence of emergency operations throughout the year.”

The four areas entail:

  • Studying characteristics of different resources to learn how to best incentivize them to create more flexible availability systemwide.
  • Evaluating the current Planning Resource Auction design. MISO said it will examine how it can best procure adequate resources throughout the planning year and reexamine how it accredits resources.
  • Ensuring that MISO’s outage process matches expected resource output with resource commitments. Bladen said MISO will look into how it can get more information on outages and the risk of outages, and examine how it can better model the risk in its planning process. The RTO says “a significant number” of unit operators change the start dates of outages within a month of the originally scheduled outage.
  • Aligning resource expectations and obligations with availability. For this, Bladen said MISO will ask what availability should be expected of resources; whether current emergency operating procedures are adequate; and whether resources provide the RTO enough information on their availability times. Bladen said MISO will focus especially on load-modifying resources, whose performance has been lacking during emergency declarations. (See “LMR Performance in January,” MISO Mulls Additional Emergency Communication.)

MISO’s Steering Committee will assign the issues to various stakeholder groups after next month’s release of a white paper explaining the issues in more detail.

Bladen said he expects MISO and stakeholders will work on implementing recommendations as they develop the project through late 2020.

In response to a question from WPPI Energy economist Valy Goepfrich, Bladen said MISO might be open to altering its loss-of-load study to reflect a departure from planning for a summer peak, but that such a move would not solve the issue entirely because the study and resulting reserve margin is a “blunt instrument.”

Bladen also said he was deliberately not suggesting a rule similar to PJM’s Capacity Performance. While CP may come up as MISO and stakeholders discuss solutions, the RTO instead wants to emphasize incentives so that the “capacity we’re counting on — and has arguably already been paid for by ratepayers — is available to us.”

New Notification System

As it debates how to address changing resource availability, MISO will this month roll out a new notification type to give members more warning of forecasted capacity shortages.

The new capacity advisory, which MISO plans to use when all-in capacity is forecast to be less than 5% above operating needs, is meant to be an intermediary step before declaring a maximum generation alert.

miso resource availability

Schaack | © RTO Insider

Manager of Unit Commitment and Dispatch Phil Van Schaack said the new advisory is strictly an informational communication and does not carry any operational instructions. However, the new notice does request that unit operators update their data and availability in the MISO system.

Van Schaack said the additional notification would be especially useful for weekends and going into Mondays, when generation assets tend to be more sparsely staffed.

“This is for when we want people to get looking at things when they’re ordinarily not looking at things,” Van Schaack said.

After stakeholders asked for more real-time electronic communication of tight operating conditions, MISO declared a maximum generation alert on a Friday in mid-May for predicted Monday conditions that did not materialize. With hindsight, some stakeholders said declaring the alert may have been overly cautious. (See MISO Mulls Additional Emergency Communication.)

Under the new approach, MISO will send a capacity advisory communication to members when it foresees tight operating conditions in advance.

“Everyone wanted proactive information, but they oppose restrictions or impacts to operations,” Van Schaack said. “The capacity advisory addresses stakeholder requests for transparency of forecasted conditions without impact to operations.”

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission’s Dave Johnston asked how the new notification will differ from MISO’s current hot weather alerts.

“The intent is more to say that ‘this is a capacity issue’ and ‘please review some of the data that you’ve submitted.’ I would say there’s some overlap, but for the hot weather alerts, we need about 99 degrees in Little Rock or so,” Van Schaack said.

MISO staff said they would have sent out the capacity advisory a few times this summer had the process been in place.