White House challenges FERC on grid security

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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Maine Center For Public Interest Reporting – Three Part Series: A CRITICAL LOOK AT MAINE’S WIND ACT (excerpts) From Part 1 – On Maine’s Wind Law “Once the committee passed the wind energy bill on to the full House and Senate, lawmakers there didn’t even debate it. They passed it unanimously and with no discussion. House Majority Leader Hannah Pingree, a Democrat from North Haven, says legislators probably didn’t know how many turbines would be constructed in Maine if the law’s goals were met." . – Maine Center for Public Interest Reporting, August 2010  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-power-bandwagon-hits-bumps-in-the-road-3/From Part 2 – On Wind and Oil Yet using wind energy doesn’t lower dependence on imported foreign oil. That’s because the majority of imported oil in Maine is used for heating and transportation. And switching our dependence from foreign oil to Maine-produced electricity isn’t likely to happen very soon, says Bartlett. “Right now, people can’t switch to electric cars and heating – if they did, we’d be in trouble.” So was one of the fundamental premises of the task force false, or at least misleading?"  http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/wind-swept-task-force-set-the-rules/From Part 3 – On Wind-Required New Transmission Lines Finally, the building of enormous, high-voltage transmission lines that the regional electricity system operator says are required to move substantial amounts of wind power to markets south of Maine was never even discussed by the task force – an omission that Mills said will come to haunt the state.“If you try to put 2,500 or 3,000 megawatts in northern or eastern Maine – oh, my god, try to build the transmission!” said Mills. “It’s not just the towers, it’s the lines – that’s when I begin to think that the goal is a little farfetched.” http://www.pinetreewatchdog.org/flaws-in-bill-like-skating-with-dull-skates/

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