The Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s seams with adjacent grid operators’ footprints and non-market areas present “really hard” operational and planning problems, a board member said Wednesday, but stakeholders find it difficult to attain common ground on how such problems should be addressed.

At MISO’s Advisory Committee meeting in New Orleans, Baljit Dail, a member of the MISO Board of Directors and chairman of its Technology Committee, noted several issues stakeholders had raised during a “hot topics” discussion of seams issues.

MISO has seams with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the PJM Interconnection, Southwest Power Pool and areas in the Southeast and in Missouri without organized power markets.

Issues raised Wednesday included the question of price divergence at the seams, a lack of price and operations transparency across seams, the difficulty of arranging interregional transmission projects and allocating the costs of such projects.

“This stuff is really hard,” Dail said. “These are not problems where there are distinct answers for each so they can be solved.”

If clear answers could be determined, they would already be resolved, Dail said.

Matt Brown, Entergy senior counsel, who represented transmission owners in the discussion, said: “From a market perspective, our primary endeavor is to achieve a ‘seamless seam,’ achieving price convergence at the seam as much as possible.”

But Brett Kruse, Calpine vice president for market design, said: “The reality is that the price reflects the price of energy in that footprint, with the congestion in that footprint.”

Each independent system operator has developed its own market structure to meet the needs of its stakeholders, and “the stakeholder bases are very locked in on the way they do business,” Kruse said.

“Sometimes I hear people with unrealistic expectations,” he said. “If we look for common areas, I think you’ll see more of this individualism die down.”

Megan Wisersky, manager of electric planning at Madison Gas and Electric, expressed support for maintaining differences between how ISOs operate.

“I am thinking, ‘Vive le difference!'” she said. “I can’t think of any other market where there’s this insistence that everyone play exactly the same.”

Chris Plante, Wisconsin Public Service transmission director, who represented transmission-dependent utilities, said: “I think what we would strive to do … would be … to have visibility into other markets.”

Pradeep Sircar, Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor chief technical adviser, said: “If price is not transparent, our consumption will change.”

Several stakeholders bemoaned the fact that each transmission project arranged across seams has a “triple hurdle” to reach fruition — achieving an acceptable benefit-ratio on an interregional basis, as well as an acceptable benefit-cost ratio for each of the relevant ISOs on the applicable seam.

“That becomes very difficult for even a very beneficial project,” said one stakeholder.

Entergy’s Brown said the interregional project development process could be improved, but “these are 100-year assets … and if a project is going to be approved, what that does is make sure the business [case] is robust.”

Transmission projects are often categorized into those needed for reliability, those needed for policy reasons or those needed for economic reasons, but stakeholders said any particular project’s benefits may change over time. Also, different regions may achieve different benefits from the same project.