Documents

This paper summarizes basic information on efficiency, its potential benefits, and EM&V for assessing those benefits. The paper introduces the concept of multistate EM&V coordination in the context of assessing such benefits, including achievement of state and federal goals to reduce air pollutants and presents three coordination strategy options: information clearinghouse/exchange, EM&V product development, and a regional energy efficiency tracking system platform. The brief culminates with a discussion of options for next steps that Western states can take to consider multistate coordination on efficiency EM&V. This brief is intended to inform state public utility commissions, boards for public and consumer-owned utilities, state energy offices and air agencies, and other organizations involved in discussions about the use of efficiency EM&V.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

Given that heterogeneous carbon emission reduction policies and programs are developing in the West on a state-by-state basis, Western states may be interested in how to link with other programs to gain the benefits of larger carbon markets.  This brief describes RGGI, one of two U.S. regional carbon markets, and describes the requirements of linking with that system.  The paper focuses on areas most relevant to state autonomy not on the design elements of the cap and trade programs.  It includes the commitments required for participation, such as how to join, how to leave, and program design requirements.  It also includes how key decisions are made, such as, managing the regional organization, changing the program design requirements and establishing allowance budgets. Finally, it explains the options available for participation such as full bilateral (two-way) and unilateral (one-way) participation and additional options that are being explored by current participants. The paper culminates in next steps that can be taken to reduce barriers and increase incentives for participation.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

Given that heterogeneous carbon emission reduction policies and programs are developing in the West on a state-by-state basis, Western states may be interested in how to link with other programs to gain the benefits of larger carbon markets.  This brief describes the WCI, one of two U.S. regional carbon markets, and describes the requirements of linking with that system.  The paper focuses on areas most relevant to state autonomy.  It includes the commitments required for participation, such as how to join, how to leave, and program design requirements.  It also includes how key decisions are made, such as, managing the regional organization, changing the program design requirements and establishing allowance budgets. Finally, it explains the options available for participation such as full bilateral (two-way) participation or unilateral (one-way) options that are being explored by current participants. The paper culminates in next steps that can be taken to reduce barriers and increase incentives for participation.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

Carbon pricing is a strategy being utilized by some Western states to achieve clean energy policy goals. This has been done primarily through cap and trade programs or applying a tax directly on emissions. When employing this strategy, there are potentially significant benefits from participation in larger markets. Given that different carbon emission reduction policies and programs are developing in the West on a state-by-state basis, Western states may be interested in how to link with other programs to gain the benefits of a larger carbon market. This paper provides an overview of the policy environment in the West, describes different types of linking and the potential benefits and challenges; and explores how program design choices can affect market outcomes.  It culminates in next steps that policy makers and regulators can take to further investigate this option.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

Renewable energy is becoming an increasing and significant source of electric generation. The largest share of renewable energy growth comes from wind and solar technologies, both of which are known as variable energy resources (VERs) that have variable dispatch patterns dependent on weather conditions and sunlight.   This paper examines the issues associated with integrating variable generation in the power system over the 10-20 year planning horizon.  The paper draws upon the research of recent studies that have modeled the Western Interconnection under high levels of renewable energy and explored steps to facilitate more efficient operations.  These findings provide the basis for a series of options that policymakers and regulators may consider for the electric sector. 

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

Frequency response is a measure of an Interconnection’s ability to arrest frequency changes and stabilize frequency immediately following the sudden loss of generation or load. It is extremely important in the reliable operation of the grid. With the transformation of the resource mix some of the frequency response services inherently provided by large, synchronous generation resources (i.e., large coal power generating stations) may not be available in the future.  This paper explains inertial response and primary and secondary frequency response, the different forms these services take and how they can be provided, and recent regulation in this area. It concludes with options that policy makers can consider for maintaining these services under expected future resource mixes.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

This paper examines the influence of DER location within a distribution system on benefits, such as avoided infrastructure costs, primarily using solar PV generation as an example. This paper draws upon an earlier paper, DER Interconnection Timelines and Advanced Inverter Deployment, particularly its emphasis on deployment of advanced inverters, but extends its examination of Western U.S. policies influencing DER deployment to hosting capacity and locational value of DERs. These two topics are highly related because hosting capacity, a measure of a distribution feeder’s capacity to accommodate DERs, is a key determinant of locational value of a given DER. Regulatory activities in the states of California and New York related to hosting capacity and locational value are also covered. Both states are now requiring IOUs to factor hosting capacity and locational value into distribution system planning. Finally, policy options for Western states are provided. These options will be of value to states already deploying DERs and to those considering DER deployment.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

Distributed energy resources (DERs) include generation and other energy sources that are not centrally-located such as rooftop solar, combined heat and power, demand response and energy storage.  In order for the energy of DERs to be grid-available, they must be interconnected with the grid. Processes for interconnection are in evolution as utilities and regulators improve their understanding of interconnection requirements, the potential for streamlining these processes, and maintaining reliability with increased amounts of grid-interconnected DER. This paper explains the process of interconnection of DERs and the technical standards that apply.  It describes California Electric Tariff Rule 21 which generally concerns interconnection of distributed power generation with distribution systems and details the technical capabilities of advanced inverters. The paper culminates in options for streamlining interconnection processes and ensuring grid reliability.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

The State Energy Planning Roadmap for Policy Makers addresses key emerging issues facing the Western electric power system as identified by Western stakeholders: a clean energy future and managing carbon risks; maintaining reliability with the integration of distributed energy resources; integration of variable energy resources; and coal unit retirements and reliability. It summarizes eight technical issue briefs, each addressing one or more specific challenges in one of these issue areas, for regulators and policy makers. The Roadmap includes a summary of the challenges, key findings, and options that policy makers and regulators can consider for addressing each challenge.

This work was accomplished through a Idaho-WIEB State Energy Planning (SEP) project funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, to foster regional and state energy planning in the West and identify opportunities for multi-state or region-wide collaborations to address emerging energy issues.

Sequestration of carbon dioxide, once captured at anthropogenic sources of production, is a measure to prevent increased atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration with its attendant greenhouse effect.  This paper examines the value of carbon capture and sequestration, as well as the principal stages of this process.  It proceeds to focus on one method of sequestration, the injection of carbon dioxide into aged oil wells in order to enhance recovery of oil, and provides examples of enhanced oil recovery in North America.  Other information sources are provided for further information.

The RETI 2.0 Western Outreach project solicited information from Western stakeholders on renewable energy and transmission issues that could contribute to meeting California’s 50% renewable portfolio standard (RPS) and greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction goals.  Two workshops were held to solicit stakeholder input; a Northwest-focused workshop in Portland on August 12, 2016, and a Southwest-focused workshop in Las Vegas on September 1, 2016. This final report summarizes the feedback from stakeholders and synthesizes relevant findings on western renewable energy markets, future renewable development, the western transmission grid, and proposed transmission expansion projects. 

 

The goal of this project was to identify barriers to electric energy storage development so that the industry and policymakers can implement solutions to address the barriers that may lead to further development of electric energy storage in the Western Interconnection.

This report begins an exploration of potential new electricity trading patterns in the Western Interconnection over the next ten years as a result of the changing generation mix. Higher penetrations of solar generation will have a noticeable effect on daily trading patterns and transmission flows across the West.

This report provides an overview of the state of transmission planning in the Western Interconnection. It covers the planning done by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), the Northern Tier Transmission Group (NTTG), ColumbiaGrid and WestConnect.

Energy and Environmental Economics (E3) completed the Interim Project Report of the Western Interconnection Flexibility Assessment. This is a collaborative project among WECC, WIEB, NREL and E3 to investigate the operational challenges of increasing levels of variable generation in the Western Interconnection and to explore potential solutions for the adequate flexibility in the power system. This interim report provides an update on the data and methodology for the project, and results from the first phase analysis of the Loss of Load Probability assessment of reliability in each region of the Western Interconnection. The second phase will explore the operational flexibility issues and should be completed in August, 2015.

These reports develop a new methodology for calculating transmission path transfer capabilities that better reflect actual system operating conditions. The new methodology would allow for more active management of path flows by automating the path rating process and using data from the recently deployed synchrophasor network. More accurate path ratings would improve the utilization of transmission facilities while maintaining or improving the reliability of the Western Interconnection.

This report documents the assumptions in four planning scenarios developed in consultation with an SPSC modeling work group. These scenarios illustrate future state-level resource mixes that could result from strategies that state may employ to comply with the Clean Power Plan. Two scenarios will be submitted to WECC for a practice run of modeling and analysis prior to the EPA’s release of a final rule.

Distributed Energy Resources (DER) are, and will continue to be, a growing component of WECC resources. Historically, new facility investment in distribution systems has been for load growth; more recently, investment in distribution systems has expanded to include DER (on both the utility and customer sides), reliability improvements, and new customer services such as electric vehicle charging. This report provides a summary of operational issues, policy recommendations, and steps that utilities and regulators can take to prepare for increased DER on distribution systems. Each distribution system is unique, and policies, planning and operations should reflect this uniqueness. This report also addresses technical challenges facing distribution utilities, offers solutions to integrate high levels of DER, and recommends policy and planning steps to integrate cost effective DER into the distribution system. Given that the electric power sector has successfully integrated energy efficiency into utility business models, it seems likely that successful integration of DER will also occur.

This report concerns the issue of methane leakage during the life cycle of natural gas-fired power generation. Methane leakage is an important issue because methane is a greenhouse gas (GHG) of much greater global warming potential than carbon dioxide (as much as 86 times greater over a 20-year time frame). Although natural gas-fired generation results in GHG emissions (almost exclusively carbon dioxide) of approximately one-half those associated with coal-fired generation, methane leakage at life cycle stages upstream of power generation (i.e., extraction, transmission) could result in GHG emissions over the fuel life cycle such that coal- and gas-fired generation are more similar in their total GHG emission profiles. Estimation of methane leakage is done using two principal approaches – the so-called bottom-up and top-down approaches. The top-down approach nearly universally yields methane leakage estimates greater than those derived from the bottom-up approach. This is a rapidly-evolving field, with new estimates published frequently. In addition to assessing our current understanding of the extent of leakage, SPSC contractor and report author M.J. Bradley & Associates covers key sources of methane emissions, along with potential control technologies and strategies, and federal and state policies to control emissions. Finally, in the report and in a separate document, implications for policymakers are discussed. This report provides an objective and thorough examination of available data for methane leakage over the life cycle of natural gas-fired power generation. It also presents technological and policy measures to reduce GHG-intensity of natural gas-fired power generation.

This report explores a modular approach to multi-state compliance with the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Under this approach individual states would develop their own state compliance plans and meet their own state targets, but would develop portions of their plans – called compliance “modules” – in voluntary collaboration with other states. The report describes the reporting system capabilities and functionalities needed to enable the tracking and trading of renewable energy and energy efficiency under a modular compliance approach. The existing WREGIS system provides a technologically robust and flexible platform that could be expanded or modified to accommodate the necessary activities.

This report provides a roadmap for assessing the reliability challenges associated with high levels of variable energy resources and the retirement of coal plants in the Western Interconnection. The report discusses the types of analysis and data needed to identify and quantify potential reliability problems, as well as the identification and analysis of mitigation options that can provide promising solutions.

This report describes how regulators can guide utility performance through the use of performance incentive mechanisms. These mechanisms have received increased attention due to regulatory concerns over resilience, utilities’ ability to respond to technological change, and the expanding opportunities for distributed energy resources.

This report identifies the capabilities of resource planning models to model flexible generation, as well as determine how utilities and state regulators are assessing the need for flexibility. The study found that the resource planning or load flow models do not adequately address flexibility needs.

This report updates and expands upon the information in the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report titled “A Review of Variable Generation Integration Charges” published in March 2013. The study found significant differences in western utility VER integration cost study methodologies, assumptions, and definitions.

This study uses a case study approach to explore the following questions: Under what operating conditions are pipelines most likely to encounter challenges related to variability of demand? Will the intraday variability of electric sector demand for natural gas exceed the physical capability of pipeline systems to accommodate fluctuations in demand within the operating day? Could additional uncertainty in the electric sector result in adverse impacts on gas system operations due to an increase in imbalances?

Executive Summary [pdf]

This study assesses the long-run ability of natural gas infrastructure to meet the needs of the electric sector in the Western Interconnection.  The study examines two key vulnerabilities:  (1)  Interruptible transportation service; and (2) Severe infrastructure contingencies on the natural gas pipeline system.  To address the uncertainty of the Western Interconnection’s future over the coming decade, the study examines four scenarios intended to capture a broad range of potential conditions. The four scenarios evaluated include: (1) A “Reference Case” that reflects current policy and trends in the electric and natural gas sectors, (2) A “High Coal Retirements Case” that reflects replacement of a large portion of the Western Interconnection’s existing coal generation fleet with natural gas-fired generation; (3) A “High Renewables Case” in which utilities pursue renewable investment beyond current statutory targets, displacing gas and other generation resources; and (4) A “High Exports Case” in which new large volumes of natural gas are exported from the Western Interconnection to meet needs of other countries.

Executive Summary [pdf]

A steady stream of commentaries has suggested that the U.S. electric power industry is facing new pressures that may require a fundamental reexamination of the traditional utility business model and the regulatory compact the supports it.  This report provides a snapshot of novel regulatory approach in the U.S. and abroad.  The report places the treats to the regulated utility business in context by identifying counterbalancing business opportunities – which some utilities are already realizing.  As changes in technologies, markets, and economic conditions continue to present challenges to traditional ratemaking, decision-makers in some states may be compelled to transition from their current regulatory framework to one this ins more performance-oriented rather than cost-oriented.  If such a transition becomes desirable, it may be useful to consider what the end-result should look like and, perhaps more importantly, what the right path if for making the transition.       

The historical early use of Demand Response (DR) resources was to reduce seasonal peak loads or infrequent price peaks on the system. Innovation has expanded the capability of DR resources to operate more frequently through automated communication systems to effectively shift loads from one period to another period. This study examines the potential contribution of the new modern form of demand response technology (called DR 2.0) to address that integration of variable energy resources in the power system. The rapid growth of renewable resources, namely wind and solar, makes integration an important challenge in the Western Interconnection. This study focuses on how much DR resources can contribute to integrating variable energy resources over the next 3-5 year timeframe.
This report examines the state of innovation of advanced transmission technology in the Western Interconnection. A survey was performed of transmission owners, developers, and operators operating in the Western Interconnect to identify existing and potential advanced transmission hardware installations in the region, and to identify the drivers and constraints for implementing these technologies. The types of technologies reviewed were transmission lines (High Voltage Direct Current lines and Advanced Conductors), dynamic control devices (Flexible AC Transmission System and Phase Shifting Transformers), information hardware (Phasor Measurements Unit), and storage technologies (battery, pumped storage, flywheel, and compressed air). The report details the key drivers considered by transmission owners and developers when implementing advanced transmission technologies, and provides details on specific project drivers through case studies.

Phase III of the Western Renewable Energy Zone (WREZ) initiative explored the potential interest of coordinated procurement renewable resources within the WREZ hub areas. This report explains the renewable energy and transmission planning processes in California and where stakeholder input is likely to have the greatest impact on regional development of resources and transmission lines. The report focuses on the planning processes of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC), the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), and the California Energy Commission (CEC). The report lays out opportunities for stakeholder engagement in the: (1) CPUC’s Long Term Procurement Planning process; (2) CPUC’s Renewable Portfolio Standard proceeding; (3) the CAISO’s Transmission Planning Process; (4) CEC’s rulemaking on RPS compliance for publicly owned utilities; and (5) CEC’s workshops on energy demand forecasts.

Obtaining siting and permitting approval for transmission projects and renewable energy can be a challenge in the West in part due to a rugged landscape, the large amount of federal land in the West, wildlife and species issues, and the scarcity of water.  The Western Governors’ Association developed an initial set of recommendations designed to improve the efficiency of the permitting process.  A workshop was held with states to obtain input on the recommendations.  This report presents recommendations that Western Governors could implement to increase the efficiency of siting and permitting procedures across the West. It includes suggestions for greater collaboration and coordination between states and federal agencies, and numerous recommendations for making the siting and permitting process more effective.

The Western Renewable Energy Zone (WREZ) initiative identified areas with abundant, high-quality renewable resources in the Western Interconnection (WREZ “hubs”) and promoted an efficient network of interstate transmission lines to deliver the energy to load centers. Phase III of the WREZ initiative examined the potential for coordinated procurement among utilities that could provide the economies of scale to support investments for new transmission to WREZ hubs. This study conducted interviews of 25 utilities, 11 public utility commissions and two provincial energy ministries to learn their views on potential collaboration to develop WREZ hubs. The interviews collected information on resource planning and procurement, transmission planning and development, and market mechanisms that could support higher levels of renewables. The report presents the findings of the interviews and recommendations on potential next steps for the WREZ initiative.

The U.S. has not been, historically, a significant exporter of coal.  Demand for coal in Asian countries, coupled with reduced domestic coal demand, has led to the possibility of exporting U.S. coal from West Coast terminals.  This paper provides an overview of the world coal market; examines world coal demand and supply, as well as world coal trade; provides details on potential U.S. West Coast coal exporting terminals in the states of Oregon and Washington; covers regulation of coal exporting terminals; and critically evaluates potential environmental and other impacts of coal exporting terminals.  Finally, other sources of information on coal exporting terminals are provided.

The natural gas sector’s practice of hydraulic fracturing has been critical to extraction of gas from unconventional reservoirs, which are principally located in shale.  This paper examines the importance of U.S. unconventional reservoirs; actual conduct of hydraulic fracturing; regulation of hydraulic fracturing at the federal, state, and local levels; and potential environmental impacts of the practice.  In order to critically evaluate environmental impacts, empirical data from the National Research Council, Duke University, and the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission are examined.  Finally, other sources of information on hydraulic fracturing, including government, industry, and environmental organizations, are provided.

This scoping study explores the economic and technical feasibility of combining wind farms with advanced coal generation facilities and operating them as a single generation complex in the Western US. The key questions examined are whether an advanced coal/wind hybrid (ACWH) facility provides sufficient advantages through improvements to the utilization of transmission lines and the capability to firm up variable wind generation for delivery to load centers to compete effectively with other supply-side alternatives in terms of project economics and emissions footprint. The study was conducted by an Analysis Team that consists of staff from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB).

Over the long-term, future carbon regulations may require a dramatic shift in electric infrastructure development away from conventional fossil generation technologies, and an unprecedented scale-up of investment in low-carbon resources. Long-term resource planning can serve an instrumental role in informing this possible shift, by providing a framework for analyzing the potential cost and risks associated with future carbon regulations and by assessing the various options for mitigating that risk. For utility resource planning to serve this role effectively, however, requires confidence that the specific assumptions and methods used to analyze carbon regulatory risk are reasonable, and will therefore support prudent investment decisions. State regulators and policy-makers may wish to advance this process by weighing-in on these issues and by providing direct guidance to utilities on the appropriate treatment of carbon regulatory risk in resource planning.