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NERC Annual Report Highlights Renewables Trend

Oct 19, 2007 - Wind Energy Weekly

The nation's transmission operators and utilities will increasingly need to accommodate a much larger portion of generation from growing amounts of renewable energy resources such as wind power coming online, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) said in its latest annual “Long Term Reliability Assessment.”

Largely as a result of growing concerns over global climate change, the increasing use of clean, inexhaustible renewable energy as a mainstream source of electricity generation is highlighted in the report as a trend that is projected to continue.

The annual report focuses on the reliability of the nation’s electricity grid and monitors load growth as well as projected development of new generation and transmission infrastructure to meet that growth. Projected increases in demand and lagging development in new transmission—an issue for both wind and the electric industry as a whole—are identified as concerns in the report.

Two specific and notable actions related to wind power are identified by NERC: a need to develop a consistent approach to calculate wind power capacity credit for purposes of determining reliability requirements, and the need to do further research on wind and solar power integration to determine how such resources can best be integrated into the nation’s power grid. AWEA will be working with NERC to support these two efforts within the NERC initiatives.

The report notes the growth of renewable energy standards, now in place in 25 states and the District of Columbia, and how those policies will drive growth of renewable energy in general and wind power in particular over the next few years.

New to the annual report this year is the inclusion of “scenarios” identifying significant changes that could likely occur in the electric industry and their resulting impact on transmission and generation planning. One such scenario identified a significant shift in the industry if climate-change legislation is passed in the near future. Such legislation would seek to sharply cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from fossil-fuel burning power plants, which in turn would require a significant change in the U.S. electric generation portfolio supply mix. The report identified that a large increase in renewable energy resources will also accelerate the need for more transmission infrastructure. Despite a 30% projected increase in transmission lines over what NERC reported last year, much more transmission will need to be built in order to access new wind power resources, the report stated.

The full report is available at: ftp://www.nerc.com/pub/sys/all_updl/docs/pubs/LTRA2007.pdf .