Transmission, Renewables: Arranged
Marriage, But at What Cost?
Dec 4, 2007 - NGI's Power Market Today
While technically and administratively California's
grid can absorb renewable generation sources at
the 20% level by 2010, according to a recently completed
report by the California Independent System Operator
(CAISO), how much the transformation will cost and
who pays for it are still unknown, CAISO CEO Yakout
Mansour said Monday during a news media briefing
on the grid operator's new demand response lab
While the boost in renewables means a new paradigm
for the grid, the CAISO report only assessed the
practicality of absorbing the added renewable power
and maintaining grid reliability; it specifically
did not attempt to assess the economic feasibility
or the projected added costs, Mansour said. That
is left for subsequent studies, he said.
"The next stage is to figure out all of the exact
costs of implementation [for transmission, demand
response, etc.]," Mansour said. "What we can say
quantitatively is that compared to the costs of
the development the resources themselves [wind,
solar, etc.], the cost of interconnection is a small
fraction of that."
The latest report outlines the areas in which these
added costs will be accumulated, focusing on five
Timely upgrades of transmission lines and interconnections
as new renewable load is developed; Keeping the
existing fleet of aging fossil fuel generation plants
on-line and operable; Creating and marketing transmission
products at fair prices to CAISO stakeholders; Development
of more highly accurate wind forecasting; and Adjusting
customer use patterns through demand response and
With its new testing lab, CAISO hopes to inspire
more new technology and applications for demand
response in both the commercial and residential
sectors -- and do it all year long, not just in
the midst of peak demand. The lab contains working
systems for commercial demand response, a home network
for Internet-based ways to turn off appliances,
programmable heating/air conditioning thermostats,
and utility products, such as a Pacific Gas and
Electric Co. air conditioning recycling system.
"We also have technologies that can tell the individual
customer how much power is available to be turned
off at any given time and where it can be turned
off," said Steve Berberich, CAISO's chief technology
officer. "Specifically, we also want to demonstrate
how these demand response measures work in the market
in terms of the overall curbing of demand and payment
to the customers in the voluntary programs."
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