FERC investigates renewables integration into grid

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has launched a review of regulatory policies to ease barriers to integrating renewable energy sources, including hydropower, into the U.S. electricity transmission grid.

FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (RM10-11) Jan. 21, 2010, seeking public comment on whether it should reform any of its rules or procedures to help incorporate variable energy resources from renewables in the most efficient and non-discriminatory manner while maintaining grid reliability.

“We are seeing a rapid expansion in the use of renewable energy technologies around the country that have the potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and electricity costs for consumers,” FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said. “To accommodate that expansion, it is our job to ensure that FERC has in place the market and operational reforms necessary to ensure that all wholesale electricity tariffs are just, reasonable, and not unduly discriminatory.”

In another effort to support variable renewable resources, Wellinghoff told Congress in December that FERC would help reduce barriers and ensure appropriate tariff treatment for increased development of electricity storage technologies including pumped-storage hydropower. (HydroWorld 12/16/09)

FERC said there are unique challenges involved in incorporating variable renewables such as wind and solar energy and non-storage hydropower plants. Challenges include location constraints and limited ability to dispatch power. Benefits include low marginal energy costs and reduced greenhouse gas and other emissions.

The commission seeks comments on the effects of variable energy sources on data and reporting requirements, scheduling flexibility, forward market structure and reliability, suitability of reserve products, capacity market reforms, and redispatch and curtailment practices.

The Notice of Inquiry may be obtained from FERC’s Internet site, www.ferc.gov, under the eLibrary link, www.ferc.gov/docs-filing/elibrary.asp, by clicking on General Search and submitting RM10-11 in the Docket Number box.

Comments are due 60 days after publication of the notice in the Federal Register. They may be submitted via the eLibrary link above or by delivery of an original and 14 copies to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Secretary of the Commission, 888 First St., N.E., Washington, DC 20426.

For information, contact Mk Shean, Office of Energy Policy and Innovations, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St., N.E., Washington, DC 20426; (1) 202-502-6792; E-mail: mk.shean@ferc.gov.

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