MISO Chair Denies Comments on SPP Tx Agreement
By Rich Heidorn Jr. and Tom Kleckner
MISO Chairman Michael Curran last week denied an RTO Insider story quoting him as saying that the RTO should “burn down” the 3,000-MW limit on flows between its North and South regions if necessary to prevent load shedding.
The comment — and one attributed by Megawatt Daily to MISO Independent Market Monitor David Patton — led to a series of tense communications between MISO and SPP and a request for FERC to intervene over how MISO managed a maximum generation event in MISO South on Jan. 17.
RTO Insider’s April 2 story reported on an exchange between Curran and Patton at MISO’s Board Week in New Orleans over the RTO’s actions to replace idled generation in its South region during the record cold on Jan. 17.
At a Markets Committee meeting March 27, Patton said if the RTO had not made emergency power purchases for South, regional supply would have dipped below load for several hours, referring to the possibility of the “lights going out in MISO South.”
RTO Insider reported that Curran “rebuked Patton’s use of such dramatic language, while also responding that MISO should ‘burn down’ SPP’s transmission on the contract path before it allows MISO South to shed load.” (See MISO Markets Committee Talks Winter, Spring — and Beyond.)
MISO agreed to the 3,000-MW Regional Dispatch Transfer (RDT) limit in a 2016 settlement agreement with SPP, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), and Southern Co.
Kari Bennett, MISO executive director of stakeholder affairs and communications, asked RTO Insider for a retraction of the quote on April 6, saying Curran denies using the words “burn down.” She also denied Curran said that MISO would violate the SPP agreement to ensure sufficient power to meet South’s load, as RTO Insider reported.
Rather, she said, Curran was indicating the RTO would invoke a clause in the agreement allowing it to exceed the 3,000-MW North-South limit. The settlement, which was approved by FERC in May 2017, set a 2,500-MW South-North limit. (See FERC Greenlights MISO Cost Allocation for SPP Settlement.)
MISO’s load hit 106.1 GW on Jan. 17, its peak for the winter, with South setting a record winter peak of 32.1 GW. The RTO called a maximum generation event in South after outages there hit 17 GW.
The RTO compensated for South’s shortfall with generation from Midwest, exceeding the 3,000-MW limit for about an hour (see chart). MISO dropped below the limit after making emergency purchases of 1,100 MW — mostly from Southern Co. — south of the North-South constraint. It was the first such emergency purchase from Southern, Patton said.
Some stakeholders who attended the meeting said privately they considered Curran’s comments surprising and inflammatory, though they could not recall use of the phrase “burn down.”
RTO Insider requested to review a recording of the meeting to address the dispute over Curran’s words. However, MISO said although the meeting was webcast, it was not recorded.
Patton said Monday that neither he nor his staff who listened to the meeting recalled Curran using the term “burn down.” Based on notes made by his staff, Patton indicated Curran said “ … if we have to run over RDT, we will to prevent turning lights off in the South.” Patton said he interpreted Curran’s “run over the RDT” statement as meaning to schedule more transfers than 3,000 MW, which is allowed on a temporary basis.
Patton said the agreement allows MISO to exceed the limit for 30 minutes after a contingency and to request a longer waiver from the other parties to the agreement.
Patton said he agreed with Curran that avoiding load shedding in South must take precedence over exceeding the RDT, adding that “the idea that you would shed load [rather than exceed the limit is] just such an absurd outcome.”
SPP declined to comment. But in an April 4 letter, SPP CEO Nick Brown complained about Curran’s comments, as reported by RTO Insider, and Patton’s comments as reported by Megawatt Daily.
The letter, which was obtained by RTO Insider, quoted Patton as saying, “SPP has been saying [MISO] created reliability problems on their [SPP] system. We don’t believe this is true.”
“I take these comments very seriously as they are totally false as SPP did face a significant reliability event and took actions necessary to preserve the integrity of our system and the bulk electric system as a whole,” wrote Brown, who said he was pleased that MISO President Clair Moeller had assured SPP that the RTO didn’t agree with Patton’s comments.
But Brown said he found Curran’s quote, as reported by RTO Insider, “very troubling.”
“I view this incident as a grave matter related to protecting the integrity and reliability of the bulk electric system,” Brown continued. “Rather than debating this incident in the press, I believe it best for the parties involved to elevate our discussions to FERC and NERC so [that] everyone can better understand what occurred on that day and why. Therefore, I have asked Paul Suskie, SPP general counsel and executive vice president for regulatory affairs, to contact FERC to request their scheduling of a meeting in Washington, D.C., to take place expeditiously.”
SPP spokesman Derek Wingfield said in a statement late Tuesday: “We disagree with the assessment of MISO’s Market Monitor, as reported in RTO Insider and Megawatt Daily, regarding the severity of MISO’s actions as they relate to the reliability of SPP’s system during the Jan. 17 event. To ensure the continued reliability of all our systems, we have asked for a meeting with principals from MISO and the joint parties to clarify the parameters by which we coordinate operations, as defined in our settlement agreement.”
MISO’s Bennett said Tuesday, “MISO system operators were in constant contact with real-time operators from all of our neighboring systems regarding system conditions on Jan. 17, including the transfer limits per the settlement agreement as well as our request for emergency purchases per MISO’s emergency protocols.
“The settlement agreement between MISO, the Southern Companies, SPP, and TVA establishes a Regional Transfer Directional Transfer Limit (RDTL) of 3,000 MW (north to south) and allows for temporary changes (increases or decreases) to the RDTL to avoid a system emergency, so long as the change does not create a system emergency for SPP, the Southern Companies or TVA.”