During the two-year window, DOE would determine which electricity systems and gas pipelines are critical for ensuring that military installations get the power they need and where power outages could cause the most damage.
The DOE plan said this review "has never previously been undertaken," which appeared to ignore a library of studies, analyses, surveys and "war games" directed at grid vulnerabilities, including gas-fired generators' dependence on natural gas pipeline deliveries.
In one revealing example, Gordon van Welie, chief executive of ISO New England, has identified exactly which power plants must be kept operating as insurance against blackouts in a very extreme winter blast: namely, Exelon Corp.'s 1,400-megawatt gas-fired Mystic 8 and 9 generators in Everett, Mass.
Exelon has announced plans to close the units in 2022 unless it gets more revenue from their power sales. Van Welie has said that while his organization can offer additional revenue by designating the units essential for grid reliability, Exelon is free to say no.
"It is important to note that ISO New England has no mechanism or authority to invest in, or direct investment in, natural gas supply infrastructure or any fuel infrastructure," van Welie told a Senate committee in January.
What does ISO New England want: Van Welie didn't ask for the proposed two-year DOE study or a revenue boost for generators at DOE's discretion. Instead, he wants FERC's immediate approval for the Exelon units to receive higher revenues based on the units' operating costs.
That would allow time to create a new tariff governing electricity rates that specifically allows ISO New England to retain units like the Mystic turbines for fuel security regions, van Welie said.
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