In a technical conference regarding offshore wind integration in the network of regional transmission operators/independent system operators (RTOs/ISOs), convened on October 27, 2020, the latter and wind developers called for changes to be made to the transmission rules governing offshore wind integration.
The participants apprised the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on how the current planning, interconnection and cost allocation procedures hinder the integration of offshore wind on a large scale, and require modification to incorporate the huge influx of planned offshore wind energy in the country. The current process prevents the much-needed coordinated planning to maximise the limited number of interconnection points on shore.
Moreover, it was noted that the cost allocation rules do not properly assign costs to parties that will benefit from the additional offshore and onshore transmission required for states to meet their clean energy goals and offshore wind energy targets. In particular, PJM Interconnection (PJM), New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) and Independent System Operator-New England (ISO-NE) are overly reliant on the interconnection queue to determine transmission needs.
The current the interconnection process is proving to be ineffective in identifying low-cost interconnection points or transmission solutions for large-scale offshore wind integration. It has been estimated that PJM, NYISO and ISO-NE will have to spend about USD10 billion on onshore transmission upgrades to accommodate the 15-20 GW renewable energy required by their states.
It was concluded that the earlier principles governing the need of a transmission project are changing, as the modifications required by the grid blurs the line between reliability needs vs congestion relief and public policy needs. Thereby, management of load growth in future, along with decarbonisation of the economy via offshore wind integration, calls for a paradigm shift in transmission planning.