April 16, 2010
In a filing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) called for updates to the way the nation’s electric utility system is operated to make it more efficient and better able to accommodate larger amounts of electricity from renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Implementing the improvements recommended by AWEA would benefit consumers and the electrical system more generally, not just renewable generators.
“While utility system operators have done an outstanding job of managing the system to ensure reliable electricity supply, many of the rules and procedures they are using were developed a generation or more ago, when our energy mix and the structure of the electric industry were very different and computing and communication technology was far less advanced,” explained Rob Gramlich, AWEA Senior VP for Public Policy.
“Our filing suggests a number of steps FERC should take to update grid operating procedures, just as they were updated in the past to accommodate new resources, such as nuclear power a generation ago.
“These reforms will make the power system operate more efficiently, even in areas where there is not a large amount of wind energy. Consumers’ electric bills will be lowered and they will get more reliable power. Being able to better integrate large amounts of wind and other renewable sources of energy onto the grid is an added bonus.”
The ideas for many of the reforms AWEA is seeking, Gramlich said, have been adopted from experience with integrating large amounts of wind energy in Europe, where wind already provides 10% or more of the electricity supply in countries like Spain, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, and Denmark.
“Wind energy is being reliably integrated onto the power system today, and reliability standards ensure that that will be the case in the future,” Gramlich said. “The reforms AWEA is suggesting will ensure that wind energy can be efficiently accommodated on the power system and also guarantee that outdated grid operating procedures will not hold up development of America’s renewable resources and the benefits they provide for our economy, environment, and energy security.”