USA’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gives a big boost to solar energy to
Big News for Renewable Energy: FERC Rules for Wind, Solar, Storage, Forbes, 29 June 12 “.…. A year ago, Wellinghoff told me: “[North American Electric Reliability Corporation] projects in its 2010 Long-Term Reliability Assessment that approximately 60 percent of all new resources expected to be added to the bulk power system by 2019 will be new wind and solar resources.”
The FERC aims to remove regulatory barriers to ensure that all of these resources can get access the grid and play a competitive role in the energy markets.
To that end, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission passed a rule last week to make it easier for solar and wind providers to distribute their power to the grid…. FERC says the ruling also benefits electric consumers by ensuring that services are provided at
reasonable rates. The rule takes effect 12 months after publication in
the Federal Register.
Also last week FERC issued a notice of proposed rule (NOPR) regarding
energy storage, known as ancillary services for the three basic
services it provides:
Frequency regulation: Grid operators must keep power flowing reliably
to users, a task made more difficult by the addition of unpredictable
generating resources like solar and wind power, which can change
output rapidly if, say, a cloud crosses the sun or the wind drops off.
Intermittency: Solar and wind also have longer term production
discrepancies: the sun does not shine at night, and in many places,
wind is calm during the day.
Peak demand: Peak demand arises at different times of the day, week
and year. Utilities must be able to deliver electricity in time to
meet peak demand.
For all of these services, utilities have traditionally relied on
ramping up additional fossil fuel power plants, usually natural gas,
called “peaker plants.”
However, storage technologies, including pumped storage
hydroelectricity, compressed air, flywheels and large batteries, can
respond faster to these shifts than fossil fuel plants: in seconds,
rather than minutes. Storage-supplied electricity also requires less
overall energy in general, because fossil fuel plants run most
efficiently at full power; ramping them up and down is inefficient.
Under the current system, it is difficult for storage developers in
most markets to get paid for these services because storage is not a
recognized asset. The Commission’s NOPR proposes to revise existing
complex market policies that have largely excluded electricity storage
providers from the market.
It also proposes to reward the faster service and accuracy energy
storage can provide over gas peaker plants with a higher price.
Measuring these attributes and better reporting methods on storage use
are also required in the proposed rule.
Finally, both the Final Rule about transmission policies and the
notice of a proposed rule (NOPR) governing storage highlight the
transmission provider’s obligation to provide information on
requirements for customers who wish to supply their own electricity
storage to prevent discrimination against them in the market.
Wellinghoff told me that he was “starting to see more and more people
who have very creative ideas of using distributed storage in ways that
I think will become very economical.” Wellinghoff, appointed to the
commission by President Bush and promoted to chairman by President
Obama, has long had a clear vision for the reforms required to bring
the U.S. electricity sector into the modern era. These proceedings
show him meticulously executing that vision.
Because FERC’s commissioners are appointed, the agency supersedes
politics to a large degree. It can make sweeping policy changes, such
as these, that have long-term impacts. Wellinghoff’s term expires in
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