FERC upholds rules to integrate variable renewables into grid

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has denied challenges to its final rules designed to ease barriers to integrating variable renewable energy sources, including hydropower and hydrokinetics, into the U.S. electricity transmission grid.

The commission denied requests for rehearing of its Order No. 764, adopted in June. The final rule is based on a notice of proposed rulemaking (RM10-11) issued by the commission in 2010. FERC examined whether it should reform any of its rules or procedures to help incorporate variable energy resources from renewables in the most efficient and non-discriminatory manner while maintaining grid reliability.

The rules require transmission providers to offer services that would allow for a more efficient integration of variable energy resources such as wind, solar, hydro, and hydrokinetics into the grid system.

They require transmission providers to offer all customers the option to schedule transmission at 15-minute intervals instead of the current hourly scheduling. FERC said the more frequent scheduling would provide greater accuracy in scheduling, thereby mitigating the amount of ancillary services the customer would need to supply or purchase.

The rules also require interconnection customers whose generating facilities include variable energy resources to provide meteorological and operational data to transmission providers. They also encourage transmission providers to implement power production forecasting.

In its Dec. 20 order on rehearing, FERC denied challenges to: the intra-hour scheduling and forecasting changes; statements addressing a public utility transmission provider's obligation to offer generator regulation service; and the estimated burden on small entities to comply with the final rules.

The commission did grant a request from utility organization Edison Electric Institute to extend the deadline for compliance filings to Nov. 12, 2013, from Sept. 11, 2013.

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