FERC conferences explore grid system challenges

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission announced it will convene technical conferences in September to explore emerging challenges to the nation’s transmission system and to examine transmission planning processes.

FERC staff members are to conduct conferences Sept. 3 in Phoenix, Ariz.; Sept. 10 in Atlanta; and Sept. 21 in Philadelphia. Transmission providers are expected to participate. FERC said transmission customers, developers of merchant transmission and distributed generation, and other resource developers also are invited to participate.

In March, FERC convened a technical conference to examine integration of renewable energy generation into the wholesale electricity grid. (HydroWorld 3/5/09) At that time, Executive Vice President Pedro Pizarro of Southern California Edison Co. previewed a new study saying pumped-storage hydroelectric plants are needed to support expanded renewables portfolio standards.

In recent months, pumped storage has received renewed attention as a tool to support additions of intermittent generation to transmission grids from renewable energy sources. In February, Energy Secretary Steven Chu called for increased investment in pumped storage to support an expanded electricity grid that will carry a greater share of intermittent generation from wind and solar sources. (HydroWorld 7/1/09) Additionally, the governors of four Pacific Northwest states urged Chu to approve a Bonneville Power Administration request for funds to study pumped-storage sites to support intermittent renewables. (HydroWorld 6/8/09)

While FERC did not speak to pumped storage in its technical conference announcement, it did say the conferences would explore whether existing processes are sufficient to meet emerging challenges to the transmission system, such as the development of interregional transmission facilities, the integration of large amounts of location-constrained generation, and the interconnection of distributed energy resources.

The conferences also will examine each transmission provider’s planning process and whether they adequately address system needs.

Those wanting to participate in the technical conferences are invited to submit requests via the following Internet sites:
o Phoenix, Sept. 3, https://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/registration/trans-09-03-speaker-form.asp;
o Atlanta, Sept. 10, https://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/registration/trans-09-10-speaker-form.asp; and
o Philadelphia, Sept. 21, https://www.ferc.gov/whats-new/registration/trans-09-21-speaker-form.asp.

For information, contact Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First St., N.E., Washington, DC 20426; Zeny Magos (Technical Information), Office of Energy Markets and Reliability, (1) 202-502-8244; E-mail: zeny.magos@ferc.gov; John Cohen (Legal Information), Office of General Counsel – Energy Markets, (1) 202-502-8705; E-mail: john.cohen@ferc.gov.

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