FERC approves electronic dispatch of wind, hydro generation in New England

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved a request by New England’s independent electricity system operator to implement a modified electronic dispatch method for certain wind and hydropower generators that are classified as intermittent power resources under ISO New England Inc.’s market rules.

Hydropower resources across the U.S. contribute significantly to operation of the grid in terms of energy, capacity and ancillary services.

In its FERC filing, ISO-NE explained that intermittent power resources, which do not have direct control over their net power output, are not currently electronically dispatchable and must be manually curtailed to manage congestion.

The system operator said the manual process is inefficient, as the curtailment and the congestion are not reflected in real-time prices. ISO-NE said that results in a mismatch of economic signals and reliability requirements as the energy prices indicate that low cost resources should continue operating at the same time that manual curtailment instructions are being issued to ensure reliable operation.

“We find that ISO-NE’s proposed tariff revisions, which make wind and hydro resources more readily dispatchable, will minimize the need to use manual curtailment processes and thus, provide for a more economically efficient use of these resources,” the FERC order (ER15-1509) said July 23. “We find that these changes are particularly important given not only the amount of wind and hydro resources in operation today (878 MW and 321 MW, respectively), but also the large amount of wind and hydro resources active in the interconnection queue (over 4,000 MW).”

FERC said it agreed the changes would improve price formation, especially in areas that have a high amount of renewable resources and limited transmission capacity, and system reliability because of reduced reliance on manual curtailments. It said they also would allow better alignment between price signals and operational requirements.

FERC approved ISO-NE’s request to make the order effective April 10, 2016, with a requirement that all such resources be capable of receiving and responding to electronic dispatch instructions, through installation of a remote terminal unit, no later than April 30, 2017. Resources that do not have remote terminal units, including many hydro projects, would have until April 20, 2017, to obtain them.

FERC directed ISO-NE to make a compliance filing within 30 days of its order date. The order may be obtained from FERC’s Internet site under http://elibrary.ferc.gov/idmws/common/opennat.asp?fileID=13939123.

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