Recent weather shows grid resilience: US FERC member
Washington — Members of the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday weighed in on the performance of the power grid during recent weather events, with Commissioner Richard Glick arguing that Hurricane Florence showed the power system’s resilience during extreme weather.
“The bulk electric system was largely unaffected by Florence, which highlights again that resilience issues are primarily distribution system issues, not bulk power system issues, and I think we need to keep on remembering that,” Glick said.
The mention of resilience is significant because FERC in January launched a proceeding on the topic after nixing a Department of Energy proposal to compensate generators that maintain 90-day on-site fuel supplies, a bid that was seen favoring aging coal and nuclear plants.
Commissioner Neil Chatterjee said that FERC staff has worked closely with officials at the North American Electric Reliability Corp. and federal and state emergency agencies to ensure the continued safety of FERC-jurisdictional hydropower facilities and monitor power disruptions to critical services.
Utilities have noted that tree contact was the biggest culprit in storm-related outages on the distribution system. As of Wednesday, the number of electricity customers without power due to Hurricane Florence had dropped below 180,000 and power demand in the hardest-hit area had bounced back to pre-storm levels.
LABOR DAY HEAT
Commissioner Glick also mentioned the hot temperatures that tested ISO New England on Labor Day. On September 3, peak load was more than 2,000 MW higher than the forecast, causing energy prices to rise as high as $2,500/MWh, he said.
The situation triggered ISO-NE’s first pay-for-performance event, which penalized inflexible resources and rewarded those that could quickly respond to the grid’s needs, Glick said. “That’s the first event of its kind. I point out this incident because it highlights the need for flexibility,” he said.
ISO-NE’s pay-for-performance program, which was approved by FERC in 2014, went into effect in June.
One of the challenges on Labor Day was that by the time it became apparent that the weather forecast was wrong, it was too late to ramp up operations on certain slow-starting generators, Glick noted. “The commission should be focusing on developing market rules like these, which compensate resources for the services that they provide, which will be essential to incentivizing the resource mix needed to operate the grid of the future,” he added.
In the ongoing debate about fuel security in ISO-NE, Glick has urged FERC to pursue improvements to market rules like the pay-for-performance program, rather than pursue out-of-market solutions such as a pending proposed cost-of-service contract for the 1,700 MW gas-fired Mystic plant in Massachusetts.
ISO-NE noted that in addition to higher than forecasted temperatures, about 1650 MW of outages occurred during the dispatch day on September 3, according to a recent presentation. The forecast peak load was 20,590 MW, but the actual peak load was 22,956 MW, the presentation said.