Midwest Have No Surplus Power For Texas

By Paul Homewood



Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO)


It is claimed that Texas would be better off as part of a wider grid. The obvious one would be MISO, to which there is already a small interconnector.

However MISO has been having severe difficulties due to the cold spell:





As with Texas,  MISO is currently relying almost entirely on coal, gas and nuclear power. If they had been operating with a quarter of the power from wind, as Texas was last week,  I suspect that they would have been experiencing the same blackouts as Texas has had.





It is also not much bigger capacity wise than Texas, which has been running at around 60 GW this week. I suspect that any extra demand from Texas would quickly destabilise the MISO grid.


There is an interesting backstory to this.


The Natural Resources Defense Council says the Midwest energy grid operator known as MISO hasn’t planned enough interstate transmission lines.

MISO manages the system of utilities and transmission lines that operate in a wide region, from Manitoba, Canada to Louisiana.

John Moore is a senior attorney with the Council.  He says MISO for too long has approved numerous local transmission projects, but only a tiny number of interstate transmission lines – which operate much like interstate highways, moving energy, rather than vehicles,  from state to state.

He says MISO needs to plan more aggressively to meet the economic and environmental needs of the region.

"If we let business as usual take its course, then MISO may not be as bold as it needs to be," he says.

Moore says the lack of interstate transmission capacity is leaving clean energy projects on the table.

That includes 42 clean energy proposals in Michigan since 2016 that were unable to proceed, because the existing transmission system couldn’t handle them.



Installing more wind power inevitably means more long distance transmission capacity is needed. The unpredictability of wind power results in huge surpluses at times, which require transmitting to areas short of power. This could often be over distances of hundreds of miles.

Since that is the case, surely it is a cost that wind farms should be paying, something that would probably make them totally unviable economically.



February 18, 2021 at 12:45PM

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