Developers Shell and Ørsted and would-be developers such as Duke Energy are among those signing a letter to the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Richard Glick, calling for a new approach to the transmission system in the US
The signatories to the 9 February 2021 letter, said a new type of transmission system is needed to meet state policy goals for renewable energy, and for offshore wind in particular.
Anbaric Developments Partners senior vice president, transmission strategy and counsel Theodore Paradise said the companies and transmission system experts involved want to highlight the importance of “moving forward with policies and rules that remove barriers to the development of the transmission systems needed to scale offshore wind in the most economic, feasible and least environmentally impactful way.”
Mr Paradise told OWJ, “There was a great deal of that feedback provided during the 27 October 2021 technical conference held by FERC, and we are encouraged that the Commission has recognised this as an area that needs attention.
“Many of the current rules simply never contemplated shared, transmission-first systems being developed in remote areas. But state laws, and now federal policies, demonstrate the need for levels of transfer and resiliency that are simply beyond the capability of single-purpose farm-by-farm radial lines.”
“As you know, America is poised to become a leader in the construction of offshore wind generation,” the letter to FERC’s chairman said. “States along the eastern seaboard are targeting the development of nearly 30 GW of new offshore wind, and that is just the tip of the iceberg. It has been estimated that meeting the decarbonisation goals set by the New England states alone may require the construction of more than 40 GW of generation by 2050. Offshore wind likewise holds promise in the Great Lakes, Gulf of Mexico, and the west coast.
“There is no dispute that substantial new transmission will be needed to meet state policy goals and enable clean offshore generation resources to power mainland homes and businesses. How offshore wind is integrated will be central to unlocking the benefits of a new market resource and ensuring that this engine of job growth and energy independence does not stall for lack of an ability to deliver power to the market.
“To date, all state-contracted offshore wind projects will interconnect to the onshore grid using generator lead lines. This approach takes advantage of both the synergies of building generation and the available capacity at existing points of interconnection.
“However, to ensure that states and RTO/ISOs can attain – and likely exceed – the currently-mandated 30 GW of offshore wind on the east coast as cost-effectively as possible, the Commission should begin evaluating a full range of transmission options now.
“A co-ordinated approach – including the development of open access transmission that is independent of (unbundled from) planned but not-yet-developed offshore wind generation, and that can potentially link multiple projects or lease areas – is gaining growing recognition as key to interconnecting offshore wind, particularly as available points of interconnection become fully utilised.
“RTO/ISO planning and interconnection policies must be able to accommodate a range of transmission approaches, while providing cost savings, minimising environmental impacts, and ensuring that offshore wind can be relied upon without excessive congestion or curtailment.
“It is essential that FERC, states, and RTOs/ISOs develop robust long-term policies that do not delay the development of offshore wind generation. For example, late last year, New Jersey became the first state in the US to announce plans to move forward with PJM to consider a planned, independent offshore wind transmission platform, while still allowing the first two rounds of state-solicited projects to interconnect using radial lines.”
The October 2020 technical conference commissioned by FERC concerning offshore wind integration in RTOs/ISOs saw a robust exchange of ideas concerning potential reforms to RTO and ISO planning and interconnection processes needed to ensure robust transmission infrastructure development that will successfully and cost-effectively integrate offshore wind.
Staff stated at the conclusion of the conference that the Commission would be issuing a notice providing an opportunity for interested persons to submit post-conference comments.
“We write to request that the Commission move forward with the issuance of that notice,” said those adding their signature to the letter.
“We also ask that FERC take prompt and effective action to facilitate transmission planning and interconnection policies that will enable construction of the cost-effective, efficient, resilient and environmentally-sound transmission infrastructure needed to connect new offshore wind generation to the onshore grid.”
Apart from Shell, Ørsted and Anbaric, the letter was also signed by representatives of the Advanced Power Alliance; American Clean Power Association; Americans for a Clean Energy Grid; American Council on Renewable Energy; The Business Network for Offshore Wind; Duke Energy Corporation; and Tufts University.