How a move to bring power markets to the Great Plains has uncovered a crisis in grid planning.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
They call the United States the “Saudi Arabia of Wind.” That’s due in large part to the huge potential of the Great Plains. But there’s a hole in the metaphor. Wind power development in some parts of the prairie is falling short of expectations.
Consider rankings from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), listing the top states in terms of: 1) total wind energy potential; 2) projects already online; and 3) projects under construction (third quarter 2008) (see Figure 1).
These rankings show that wind project development lags in South Dakota and Nebraska. In part, that’s because those states remain largely shut out of power markets run by the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator (MISO), a regional transmission organization (RTO) certified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). These two states lie on the wrong side of the irregular, overlapping, and intertwined geographic seam between MISO and the Mid-Continent Area Power Pool (MAPP). That means that many wind projects and other generation resources located in South Dakota or Nebraska must pay an extra, pancaked transmission “out” charge to sell their output into MISO Midwest markets.