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Yet Another Subsidy For Wind?

FERC risks going overboard in easing penalties for generation imbalances.

Fortnightly Magazine - August 2005

Effects of Integrating Wind Power on Transmission System Planning, Reliability, and Operations-Phase 2 Report on System Performance Evaluation," March 4, 2005, posted at

According to the Utility Wind Interest Group, this study (and another notable study conducted in Minnesota for Xcel Energy), shows that by far, there is less cost impact in the timeframe of hour-ahead wind forecasting, or near-real-time scheduling of wind turbines, designed to assist the real-time control room operator than the day-ahead energy market.

In other words, programs such as Cal-ISO's PIRP, which focus solely on netting out the short-term imbalances, are "probably not optimal," as UWIG explains, from the point of view of "minimizing the all-in cost impacts at the system level."

"Costs in the regulation and load-following time frame," UWIG continues, "are measured in the 10s of cents per MWh, while the costs in the unit commitment time frame are measured in dollars per MWh.

"Studies done to date have analyzed wind scenarios using a generation portfolio that is not necessarily optimal for large quantities of wind," adds the group.

"A different mix of conventional units with shorter start times and more ramping capability will increase the limits of wind penetration in a given control area, and should be considered in future planning scenarios."

If these comments are valid, then the NYSERDA study implies that tomorrow's generating mix ought to look very different, and that thinking outside the box might be the best way to put the imbalance problem to bed.