Policies: Transmission

Energy Imbalance Markets Part II: A review of the EIM Proposal for the Western Interconnection and potential impacts

Published July 2013
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The essentials

  • The Public Utility Commission Energy Imbalance Market has proposed an EIM for the Western Interconnection 1.
  • The National Renewable Energy Laboratory Draft Report on EIM Analysis shows an annual societal operating benefit of between $146 million and $300 million for the Western Interconnection EIM with full participation.
  • Critics of the plan cite concerns of cost-shifting, jurisdictional issues for local governments to enforce penalties, and questions of reliability.

The SunZia Project and Rapid Response Team for Transmission brief

Published June 2013
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The essentials

  • The SunZia high-voltage transmission line project will span 500 miles over a portion of public land managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), originating in NM and terminating in AZ.
  • It is proposed by the SunZia Transmission LLC that the 500 kV line will provide increased transmission capacity for renewable energy projects.
  • The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) identified a preferred route for the SunZia line that partly passes close to the U.S. military’s White Sands Missile Range (WSMR).
  • U.S. military officials oppose this preferred route and consider it a threat to national security.
  • In October 2011, the Obama Administration designated the SunZia Project for accelerated permitting and construction through the Rapid Response Team for Transmission (RRTT) to encourage greater coordination between federal agencies.

Introduction to Energy Imbalance Markets: Part I

Published May 2013
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The essentials 

  • An Energy Imbalance Market (EIM) would pool in electricity generation within a region and dispatch resources.
  • This could moderate the variability of renewable generation resources and electricity demand on a least-cost basis. Participation is voluntary.
  • The Public Utility Commission Energy Imbalance Markethas proposed an EIM for the Western Interconnection.
  • The EIM would lead to lower reserve requirements and increases reliability especially during unexpected generation outages and high peak demand.
  • The EIM brings with it concerns about new reliability problems and costs that could outweigh the estimated benefits.

FERC Order 1000

Published April 2012
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The essentials

  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regulates interstate electricity commerce over long-distance transmission lines.
  • FERC recently issued Order No. 1000, with an initial compliance deadline of October 11, 2012.
  • The purpose of FERC Order No. 1000 is to create more competitive wholesale electricity markets by removing barriers to building new interstate transmission lines.
  • The new ruling is partly aimed at enabling regions to make transmission investments necessary to meet state renewable energy policies.

Overlay Zoning for Renewable Energy and Transmission Lines

Published March 2012
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The essentials

  • Overlay zoning can ease policy issues facing renewable energy generation development and transmission line development, including issues such as: 1. The time required for the permitting process; 2. The conundrum of transmission line development that is critical to renewable energy development in isolated areas.
  • Gila Bend, Arizona has promoted its burgeoning solar industry through Solar Field Overlay Zones (SFOZs).  Other parts of the country have implemented similar overlay zoning plans to ease renewable energy development permitting processes. Imperial County, CA and Klickitat County, WA have successfully implemented this zoning strategy to encourage geothermal power plants and wind energy power plants, respectively.
  • SFOZs operate as a placeholder for both distributed generation and utility-scale solar generation projects while also decreasing the permitting process timeline from as much as one year to as little as four weeks.
  • In Texas, there was little to no transmission line capacity for optimal wind energy project sites. In 2005 they began planning Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZs) to address encourage transmission line development.
  • CREZs have led to the development of transmission line capacity for 6,000 MW of wind energy, with 18,500 MW planned, throughout the state of Texas.