I know, that’s a lot of alphabet soup, so let’s do that first.

NYISO is the New York Independent Service Operator, the transmission operator for New York.

ISO-NE is the Independent Service Operator of New England, the transmission operator for New England.

JCSP is the Joint Coordinated system Planning Initiative, conducted by most of the transmission planning entities in the Eastern Interconnect.  Each ISO has a JCSP committee, I’m most familiar with the MISO JCSP efforts (AAAAARGH!).  I’ve just spent half an hour searching MISO and can’t find the JCSP section, more AAAAAAAARGH… here’s a small piece:

JCSP08 Executive Summary

Anyway, as you all know, the “Green Power Express” has been announced, roaring through the Midwest towards the east, a CapX 2020 on steroids.

JCSP has put out a plan, and NYISO and ISO-NE said: PPPPPPPPBBBBBBBFT, I don’t think so, we don’t want to join in publication of this report due to your lack of consideration of efforts we’re doing here, and that you’ve got a lot of coal expansion in your plan.  Well, that’s my translation.  What do you think?

Here’s their Frbruary 4, 2009 letter to JCSP:

Feb 4 2009 NYISO & ISO-NE Comment to JCSP

Here it is, do read it yourself and CHEER and SNORT!  They have nailed it (EMPHASIS ADDED):

February 4, 2009


ISO New England and the NYISO are pleased to participate in the Joint Coordinated System Plan (JCSP) initiative that comprises nearly all of the regional planning entities for the Eastern Interconnection. We believe this type of broad, long-term and cooperative approach to power system planning and development is important to inform federal energy policy under the new administration.

The JCSP is a highly valuable activity with respect to the collaboration it promotes among the regional planning organizations within the Eastern Interconnection and the tools it has developed. Even at this early stage of the process, the JCSP has established a framework in which to study the entire Eastern Interconnection in a single multi-regional analysis and developed a common database of information that can be used as a starting point for future studies.

The current JCSP reports on the activities undertaken in 2008, presents analyses of two wind expansion scenarios, that also assume significant baseload coal expansion, and recommends further scenarios for the group to study. ISO New England and NYISO support the JCSP recommendation to pursue additional studies and scenarios and believe these steps are required prior to reaching any broad conclusions on the need for, and scope of, development of large scale transmission. In this regard, the 2008 JCSP report cannot be viewed as a “plan” to be relied upon for decision-making purposes and we believe its publication is premature.

Our primary concern is that the report portrays its analyses to date as a basis for federal policy discussions and decisions regarding major transmission development, as it relates to the integration of renewable resources, notwithstanding the recognized need for additional work. Until additional scenarios that include the development of local resources are analyzed, we do not believe any single transmission plan can be presented as a solution to the integration of additional renewable energy resources in the United States. Conversely, there is significant value in the JCSP studies for policymakers if appropriately presented as technical scenario analysis — coupled with the incorporation of specific planning work already underway in the various regions, including New England and New York, to integrate local renewable resources.

We also have concerns about the inclusion of issues such as cost allocation and “value based planning” considerations in the JCSP report. Since the JCSP is not itself a policy making body, we do not believe these issues should be part of the current scope nor are they appropriate for future JCSP efforts. In fact, we feel that issuing the report as it stands has the potential to constrain future collaboration, and at worst, stimulate counter-productive debate amongst regional planning organizations at it relates to these two policy areas.

In order to ensure that ISO New England’s and NYISO’s specific concerns are fully understood, below is a description of some of the specific activities and initiatives going on in the region and an explanation of how we believe they impact certain JCSP study assumptions and future efforts.

The New England Governors have been working actively for the past two years, not only among the six states in the region, but also in collaboration with the five eastern Canadian provinces of Quebec, Ontario, Newfoundland and Labrador, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to consider the integrated development of renewable and non-carbon emitting resources. Numerous proposals to develop renewables within the region (over 4800 MW in the current ISO New England Interconnection queue), including two major off shore wind projects, are being pursued by private entities. The governors and energy policymakers strongly support these developments and view them as economic development opportunities for their states — as well as for advancing air quality and energy security goals. Recently, the governors asked ISO New England for assistance in creating a “blueprint” for developing regional energy resources and overcoming transmission barriers to enhance the energy independence of the region. Furthermore, a number of initiatives in the New England states are promoting energy
efficiency and smart grid technologies. These are in addition to demand resources that are expected to
comprise over 8% of the resources procured for our Forward Capacity Market for the year 2011.

New York State has put into place an aggressive policy to incent the development of a substantial level of both renewable resources as well as energy efficiency. In his recent State-of-the-State message Governor Paterson announced a further expansion of the State’s efforts to achieve a “45×15” goal: i.e. a 30% level of renewable resources and a 15% reduction in the forecasted energy usage in the State by the year 2015. The energy efficiency program alone, if these goals are achieved, will reduce statewide electric demand by over 5000MW. New York already has nearly 1000MW of wind resources now in operation and the NYISO has another 8000MW in its interconnection queue, including off-shore projects totaling over 1200MW. The NYISO is working with regulators and stakeholders in New York to analyze the local transmission reinforcements that may be required to fully integrate such substantial local wind resources into the wholesale electric markets for the benefit of all consumers in the State.

With the shared geography and history of energy trading patterns between New York and New England with Eastern Canada, significant consideration is also being given to transmission options that would strengthen our access to new supplies of renewable energy—both hydro and wind—now being developed north of our states in Canada. Given these activities, it is reasonable to assume that these resources being developed in the Northeast may be deliverable to customers in our region sooner and more cost-effectively than Midwest wind resources. Given the renewable development, energy efficiency, and likelihood of new ties to Canada, the need to construct long transmission lines to the Midwest would likely be reduced and in turn overall transmission costs may be lower. We believe New England and New York policymakers and stakeholders should have the opportunity to compare such a scenario with the scenarios assumed in the current JCSP report and urge that they be included in future JCSP planning efforts.

We note that the report also assumes the development of new coal-fired generation in the Midwest without recognition of current and future restrictions on carbon emissions and their associated costs. While there is significant uncertainty about the details and timing of federal regulations for carbon, the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (“RGGI”) is in effect today in New England, New York and other Northeast states and its impacts on generation from coal fired resources remains to be seen. In addition, we believe it is likely that the transmission and wind project capital cost estimates contained in the initial JCSP are understated and suggest that modifications to the estimates and estimating process would help to develop a better understanding of the true costs of the expansion scenarios. Future JCSP efforts should also include the ability of stakeholders in the various regions to consider and comment on the assumptions used for these estimates.

These factors, especially the lack of recognition of important New England and New York-specific circumstances require that ISO New England and NYISO withdraw from the publication of the current JCSP study. Despite our inability to participate in the JCSP 2008 report, we intend to continue to participate and work collaboratively towards the modifications suggested above. In order to advance the positive steps made by the participants and the Department of Energy toward joint planning initiatives, we hope that agreement can be reached on the charter, governance and scope of additional JCSP planning efforts and an improved regional stakeholder review process.

Gordon van Welie
President & Chief Executive Officer
ISO New England Inc.

Stephen G. Whitley                                                                                                                                                                     President & Chief Executive Officer                                                                                                                                           New York Independent System Operator


Many thanks to the little birdie who sent this:


Here we go, the Green Transmission Machine is here and is trying to leave the station, and what a crock.  ITC Holdings, transmission only company a la TRANSLink, has announced “The Green Power Express” and here’s their press release:

ITC Holdings – Green Power Express Press Release

And look at this map, here it is:

Microsoft PowerPoint - 090105 Green Power Express.ppt

Once again, they’re saying “it’s GREEN” from wind in Dakotas to Chicago… oh, but doesn’t it start in ANTELOPE VALLEY?  Isn’t that where all those coal plants are?  Isn’t that where they want to build new coal plants?  And isn’t Illinois the state where they have thousands of MW of wind in the MISO queue?  And for this we should give them $10-12 BILLION to build this?  I don’t think so…

Green Power Express – FERC Rate Filing

And while you’re at it, this is MTEP, so check this out the JCSP/MTEP plan:

JCSP08 Executive Summary

Here’s the upshot of what they’re proposing:


All of this is tied in with the “Upper Midwest Transmission Development Initiative” which is a bunch of utility transmission oriented folks who have a lot to gain from this, Governors lead by Pawlenty the utility toadie, and regulators who don’t seem to be able to think their way out of a box — they’re promoting transmission without addressing need, claiming a transmission solution for a problem that doesn’t exist:


FEBRUARY 11, 2009

1:30-3:00 p.m.

PUC Large Hearing Room

3rd Floor

121 – 7th Place East

St. Paul, Minnesota

What dries me crazy is that this so obviously isn’t necessary, because there’s SOOOOO much wind already in Illinois and here’s the MISO queue, in Excel and sortable, for your edification:


Here’s an ILL WIND for this project, sorted from above MISO Queue (note that some of that 11,281MW is already in service):


But this is all about the MISO Midwest Market and displacing natural gas with coal:

ICF Final Deck – PowerPoint

ICF’s Independent Assessment of Midwest ISO Operational Benefits

In Milwaukee Journal Sentinal:

$10 billion transmission lines for wind power

Here’s the STrib article about the Green-with-Nausea Power Express:

Huge power line may be coming to Minnesota


February 10, 2009

A massive high-voltage power line that would connect the wind turbine farms along Buffalo Ridge and points west to the Midwest’s biggest cities was unveiled Monday.

ITC Holdings Corp. of Novi, Mich., announced Monday that a 765,000-volt line would run 3,000 miles across seven states, including Minnesota, the Dakotas, Iowa and Wisconsin, carrying power to the Chicago region and points east.

The project, dubbed the “Green Power Express,” would cost as much as $12 billion to transmit as much as 12,000 megawatts of power from windy, sparsely-populated areas.

Company officials touted the project as being line with the goals outlined by President Obama in his national energy agenda, specifically mentioning his desire “to get wind power from North Dakota to population centers, like Chicago.”

Nonetheless, the project is likely to face host of hurdles, starting with its cost and size, given the fact that power lines throughout the Upper Midwest have consistently sparked fierce opposition by local residents.

Further stressing its “green energy” credentials, the company estimated that hooking the wind farms into the region’s electric grid could lead to a reduction of up to 34 million metric tons of carbon emissions, which is equivalent to the annual emissions of as many as nine 600-megawatt coal-fired power plants.

ITC Holdings began the process of winning approval of its plans Monday by filing an application with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. It is likely to also need to pass regulatory hurdles from individual states that the power line would cross.

We’re stuck here in Minnesota for a while, parental health issues to deal with, and thankfully others have posted on the meeting this week in Delaware about the Mid-Atlantic Power Pathway proposed by Delmarva and PEPCO.

Howard – Delmar DustPan: The Millsboro’s MAPP Meeting

His post shows that it’s the same everywhere — coffee & cookies and 20 utility employees to “explain.”  TWENTY!

From his blog — does this scene look familiar:


AND knowing that 600 showed up in Maryland, that there’s lots of interest, he notes that there were only 30 chairs.  Come on, PEPCO, that is SO tacky…

This project is part of something much bigger…

Here’s my post on RTEP – Regional Transmission Expansion Plan

Here’s some info about their plan, the original proposal, and info about AC v. DC lines, focused on the submarine cable for the Chesapeake Bay:

PHI Transmission Line Proposal – May 15, 2006

June 12, 2008 MAPP Project Update

FERC has approved a Return on Investment of 12.8%:

FERC Approval of Rate Recovery November 3, 2008

The June 12 PowerPoint says it will cost $1.5 billion, and the FERC press release says $1.05 billion.  Slip of the decimal?

Take a look at their Market Efficiency Analysis — projections of cost and revenue changes:


In short, here’s what this line is about:


I found a powerpoint with some of the upgrades planned:

Sept 9 2008 PJM Subregional Planning – Mid-Atlantic

Here are maps to some Delaware projects from this September powerpoint:







This article was in MinnPost on Friday, somehow I missed it — Steve Berg did a great job spelling it all out.  Perhaps Xcel will get the message that they’ve really screwed up and need to do this differently?

Here’s the referenced Minneapolis City Council Health, Energy and Environment Committee’s Resolution:

Resolution of Health, Energy & Environment Committee

And here’s Steve Berg’s article in toto:

Power lines over the Midtown Greenway? A classic case of destroying a place to save it

Remember Aesop’s fable about the foolish couple who killed the goose that laid golden eggs? Xcel Energy apparently forgot to reread the tale before launching a plan to run a high-voltage power line over the rim of the Midtown Greenway in south Minneapolis. Like the fable, Xcel’s plan is layered in irony and fraught with unintended consequences.

Here’s hoping that the City Council on Friday can put the brakes on the project long enough for the electric utility and its state regulators to take a deep breath and consider a better solution.

The good part about this particular story is that the Midtown neighborhoods are in the midst of revival. When the recession ends, Xcel expects more growth in a part of the city that already uses more power than its aging grid can handle. It needs more service.

But Midtown owes its success largely to the greenway itself, a remarkable bike trail and linear park carved out of an old railroad trench. Hundreds of new homes and offices have been built along the 5.5-mile greenway in recent years, and more are anticipated. For Xcel to run a high-voltage line over the greenway’s edge figures to ruin the very attraction responsible for the area’s revival.

This is more than a little crazy. A better idea would have been to bury the new line beneath Lake Street (which runs parallel to the greenway) during the street’s recent reconstruction. Apparently Xcel wasn’t interested at the time.

Another alternative
Now the city’s preferred alternative is to bury the line beneath East 28th Street. Xcel complains that going underground would double the project’s $15 million cost, and suggests obliquely that the extra burden might be borne by the neighborhood’s ratepayers, or perhaps the city’s.

It’s clear that underground lines cost more, both to install and maintain. But when Xcel adds service to a new subdivision on the Twin Cities edge, the cost is laid off against the entire rate base. There’s no good reason the cost of updating service in a city neighborhood shouldn’t be handled in the same way – especially when a regional asset like Midtown Greenway is involved.

Indeed, a trend toward infill development will cause similar conflicts in the future as older neighborhoods add demand and require upgraded service. Infill development carries many social, environmental and economic benefits to a metropolitan region. Ratepayers in those neighborhoods shouldn’t be penalized with higher rates than those charged to ratepayers on the suburban fringe.

Three open houses held
Xcel doesn’t need Minneapolis’ official blessing to proceed with its application to the Public Utilities Commission for an overhead line. But it has promised to involve neighborhood residents and city officials in forging a final design. To that end, it has held three open houses on the issue, pointing out that this line would provide power to an additional 7,500 homes and that the 1.25-mile project — running roughly between Hiawatha Avenue and Interstate Hwy. 35W — is part of a larger effort to upgrade service to south Minneapolis.

“We’ll consider input about issues such as aesthetics and recreation in the design and location of the infrastructure and we’ll offer alternatives for consideration,” Judy Poferl, Xcel’s regional vice president, said last fall in launching the project.

But Xcel has failed to convince the neighborhoods or City Hall that going overhead is the best alternative. The Midtown Greenway Coalition has urged Xcel to look more closely at conservation measures. And the City Council’s Health, Energy and Environment Committee (PDF) has concluded that an overhead line would be incompatible with the character of the greenway and its environs.

“A buried line makes more sense in this kind of urban environment,” said Council Member Robert Lilligren.

The county’s interest
Perhaps more than any party, Hennepin County has an interest in the issue’s outcome. The county’s railroad authority owns the greenway and its public-works department recently finished rebuilding nearby Lake Street.

In opposing the overhead line, Commissioner Peter McLaughlin points out the greenway’s status as a historic district and a regional recreation asset. “We have several avenues to explore,” he said. “In the end it may work out that going underground is the only alternative that works for them – and that’s what we hope happens.”

The city, county, state and federal governments have invested millions of dollars in the greenway corridor. Private interests have responded in kind. All have a big stake in protecting their investments. The greenway has boosted a part of the city that’s still a long way from reaching full potential. Why kill the goose just as the golden eggs have begun to appear?

Transmission in NYT today

February 7th, 2009

Matthew Wald has a good piece in the NYT today, good in that it raises some of the issues, but these issues raised need some more digging, can you dig it?

Check this paragraph from the article:

In fact, energy experts say that simply building a better grid is not enough, because that would make the cheap electricity that comes from burning coal available in more parts of the country. That could squeeze out generators that are more expensive but cleaner, like those running on natural gas. The solution is to put a price on emissions from dirtier fuels and incorporate that into the price of electricity, or find some other way to limit power generation from coal, these experts say.

Not “could,” but WOULD “squeeze out generators that are more expensive but cleaner” and adding externalities to coal generation cost would only stop that, would only be a “solution” if it tacked on HUGE costs, far greater than those anticipated by those advocating either Cap & Trade or Tax.

But those of us in transmission are glad to see the driver for new construction exposed, as it was in the MISO Benefits Study by our good friends at ICF:

RTO operational benefits are largely associated with the improved ability to displace  generation with coal generation, more efficient use of coal generation, and better use of import potential.

Here’s that MISO study, the above quote comes from the conclusions, p. 83, and is also stated in the intro — THIS IS THE REASON FOR TRANSMISSION, THIS IS THE REASON FOR THE MIDWEST MISO MARKET.  Read the study:

ICF’s Independent Assessment of Midwest ISO Operational Benefits

For example, Jose Delgado whining about hwo long it took to get the permit for Arrowhead, what does he expect for a project that was an absurdly obvious ploy for a superhighway for bulk power portrayed as a “local load” need for WUMS?  They put together many options in the WRAO report, and selected one, Arrowhead, “3j,” as the be-all and end-all of transmission.  That was declared the ONE line that would fix Wisconsin.  Then, next thing you know, they still want to do “5” more commonly known as the Chisago project, they want to do “9” in SW Minnesota claiming “it’s for wind” when there’s only 213-302MVA coming off of Buffalo Ridge into the Nobles substation, they do them all because that’s what they want, they can ship bulk power.  It’s been so dishonest…  Utilities have been so dishonest…

And let’s look at the financing of these lines.  CapX 2020 testimony and a powerpoint demonstrate that they don’t have the financing lined up for that $2 billion dollar project.  They were working through Lehman Bros. so what does that say?  The “Cap” of CapX 2020 is “Capital” and they don’t have it.  But because they want it, they’ll make us pay for it.  Is something wrong with this picture?


Hurdles (Not Financial Ones) Await Electric Grid Update


WASHINGTON — Environmentalists dream of a bigger and “smarter” electric grid that could move vast amounts of clean electricity from windswept plains and sunny deserts to distant cities.

Such a grid, they argue, could help utilities match demand with supply on the hottest afternoons, allow customers to decide when to run their appliances and decrease the risk of blackouts, like the one that paralyzed much of the East in 2003.

The Obama administration has vowed to make the grid smarter and tougher, allocating $11 billion in grants and loan guarantees to the task in the economic stimulus package passed by the House last week.

But it will take a lot more than money to transform the grid from a form that served well in the last century, when electricity was produced mostly near the point of consumption, and when the imperative was meeting demand, no matter how high it grew.

Opposition to power lines from landowners and neighbors, local officials or environmental groups, especially in rural areas, makes expansion difficult — even when the money for it is available. And some experts argue that in the absence of a broader national effort to encourage cleaner fuels, even the smartest grid will do little to reduce consumption of fuels that contribute to climate change.

In fact, energy experts say that simply building a better grid is not enough, because that would make the cheap electricity that comes from burning coal available in more parts of the country. That could squeeze out generators that are more expensive but cleaner, like those running on natural gas. The solution is to put a price on emissions from dirtier fuels and incorporate that into the price of electricity, or find some other way to limit power generation from coal, these experts say.

The stimulus bill passed by the House includes $6.5 billion in credit to federal agencies for building power lines, presumably in remote areas where renewable energy sources are best placed, and $2 billion in loan guarantees to companies for power lines and renewable energy projects. The bill also includes $4.4 billion for the installation of smart meters — which, administration officials say, in combination with other investments in a smart grid, would cut energy use by 2 percent to 4 percent — and $100 million to train workers to maintain the grid.

About 527,000 miles of high-voltage transmission lines stretch across the United States, most installed many decades ago.

Everyone agrees that more lines are needed. But some industry experts argue that the problem of making the grid greener goes well beyond upgrading and expanding the existing power lines. The grid, they say, was set up primarily to draw energy from nearby plants and to provide a steady flow of electricity to customers. It was not intended to incorporate power from remote sources like solar panels and windmills, whose output fluctuates with weather conditions — variability that demands a far more flexible operation.

The experts say that the grid must therefore be designed to moderate demand at times when there is less wind or sun available — for example, by allowing businesses or residential customers to volunteer to let the local utility turn down air-conditioners in office buildings or houses, when hourly prices rise.

An even more significant problem is that utilities increasingly face opposition to expansion and must fight for years for permits.

José M. Delgado, president and chief executive of the American Transmission Company, which operates in four Midwestern states, said his firm’s last major project, a line of about 220 miles from Duluth, Minn., to Wausau, Wis., took two years to build but eight years before that to win the permits. The federal Interior Department took a year to approve the line crossing a wild river and required a $5 million contribution to a national park, but the one-year delay raised costs by an additional $12 million, for a total of $440 million, Mr. Delgado said.

Loan guarantees will not help this problem, he said. “We have had wonderful access to the private bond market,” he added.

The International Transmission Company, a Michigan company, is trying to build a 26-mile line that, had it been in place, would have prevented the great Eastern blackout of 2003, said Joseph L. Welch, president and chief executive. The State of Michigan has approved it, but a homeowner is challenging it in court, Mr. Welch said.

“We burn up three years on a line that will take two months to build,” he said.

But, he added, “We absolutely have no problem — underscore, no problem — financing our transmission grid.”

Other companies said the same, although a few said the loan guarantees in the House bill would be helpful.

As power lines lengthen, the number of approvals they require increases, the complications of dividing the costs become greater and the difference among national interests and local interests becomes starker, said Dan W. Reicher, a former assistant secretary of energy who was a member of President Obama’s transition team.

Policy makers have looked at various models to resolve the conflicting interests in power-line disputes. In the 1930s, the federal government assumed sole responsibility for approving natural gas pipelines, and as a result, gas moves freely from wells in the Gulf Coast states to other areas of the country, with much of it used to make electricity. Gas pipelines are somewhat less objectionable, though, because they are buried.

Another model is the one used to build the Interstate Highway System, with the states using their powers of eminent domain in a system that was centrally planned with state input. But highways were more attractive to many states than power lines would be, electricity officials say, especially if the lines are simply crossing a state without adding much local benefit. A third possibility is a national commission that would present a master plan for thousands of miles of new transmission lines that Congress could approve for the whole country in spite of local objections for individual pieces.

Congress tried to solve the problem in 2005 with a law that gave the Energy Department authority to intervene if states did not approve new lines deemed to be in the national interest, but that has not worked well, said Representative Henry A. Waxman, Democrat of California and chairman of the House Energy Committee. It was criticized as an assault on the traditional control by the states of land-use decisions.

The electric industry is at least planning to better integrate different parts of the grid so that if power is needed in Baltimore it can be imported from Chicago. A group of technical experts, mostly from the Midwest, have been meeting for months to map out new lines, in an effort that industry veterans say is unprecedented in its breadth. But the group’s aim is simply a map of what such a system would look like; it will not seek permission for such lines, or try to finance them or actually build them. The group is scheduled to make an announcement next week.

“We’ve got a real political confrontation that’s going to take place,” said Glenn L. English Jr., chief executive of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, who had served as a congressman from Oklahoma for 20 years. “It basically comes down to the question of prioritization. What’s more important to you? Do you truly want to maximize the use of renewable energy?”