Ahead of her participation in TransmissionHub’s TransForum East in December in Arlington, Va., Katherine Prewitt, director of planning with the Southwest Power Pool spoke with TransmissionHub about the challenges of integrating renewable resources in the East Coast.
“One of the challenges that we face as an RTO is the intermittency of wind and trying to deal with that in a real-time environment,” Prewitt said. “Another one is the lack of transmission infrastructure.”
She noted that such entities like the Electric Power Research Institute are continually looking into what can be done to resolve such issues.
“I think that’s what we need to keep doing, as an industry – keep discussing and trying to figure out what the best way is to deal with it,” she said.
One issue that is in discussion that may address certain integration challenges, she said, involves reactive power control, or the control for high- and low voltage on the grid.
“We spend a lot of time collaborating with all of our stakeholders – transmission owners, developers, independent power producers – I think, really, that the key is to make sure that we all collaborate and understand and talk about all” the issues, she said.
Prewitt, who works on the ISO/RTO Council, an industry organization made of 10 independent system operators and regional transmission organizations, noted that SPP is stakeholder-driven and has a long-term planning process.
“We look at what needs each of our states and members might have as it relates to wind and we do our best to incorporate all of that,” she said, adding that the stakeholder process determines what needs the region may have overall.
SPP’s integrated transmission planning process takes place in 20-year, 10-year and near-term cycles, an SPP spokesperson told TransmissionHub.
“We are currently in our ITP20 cycle, which will take 18 months to complete – in essence, we have a new ITP20 every three years, because we alternate the 10 with the 20,” he said.
SPP accepts proposed projects from its stakeholders and assesses them based on reliability, economic and policy needs of its members and the region.
The steps in the process are to issue a preliminary assessment of all the projects being considered in mid-February, issue a draft report with staff recommendations for stakeholder review in April and send a final report to the board of directors in July.
Prewitt noted that the main renewable energy resource in the SPP footprint is wind energy. SPP’s current wind capacity is 7,337 MW, or 7.33 GW.
On whether a national renewable portfolio standard should be implemented, Prewitt noted that some states within the SPP footprint have individual goals. “I think it’s one of those things we’re going to have to continue to discuss,” she said.
Prewitt said that with regard to building new transmission, SPP leaves the permitting process to the transmission owners to work through and "we support them in any way that we can.”
Noting that reliability and economics “truly are inseparable,” she said, “[W]e do spend a lot of time focusing on the most cost-effective solutions for our region.”