15 Minutes to Balance Northwest Gridby Steven Johnson
Electric Co-op Today, November 3, 2014
Bonneville has 4,500 megawatts of wind energy connected to its
transmission systems and says it anticipates adding another 2,500 MW by 2015.
Bonneville Power Administration has started to offer its customers the opportunity to schedule energy transactions in 15-minute increments.
The change gives utilities a new measure of flexibility in responding to swings in power generation as they buy, sell and transmit energy.
It also could enable Bonneville to reduce the reserves it needs to increase or decrease hydro generation when demands change on its 15,000-mile transmission system.
"The Northwest is blessed with abundant clean energy resources, led by the hydropower system," said John Prescott, president and CEO of PNGC Power, based in Portland, Ore. "BPA has been proactive in taking steps to increase the efficient operation of its transmission system, and the implementation of 15-minute schedules is a positive step forward for the region's energy markets.
Power producers in the Northwest have historically scheduled energy on the hour. In 2014, several utilities started to move to half-hour scheduling.
The change is helping to accommodate the integration of wind resources into the grid. Bonneville has 4,500 megawatts of wind energy connected to its transmission systems and says it anticipates adding another 2,500 MW by 2015.
But wind power can be fickle, and when it dies down, BPA has to balance the grid to ensure a stable, reliable flow of power to its customers, which include 124 electric cooperatives, municipal utilities and public power districts.
Portland General Electric became the first BPA customer to schedule in 15-minute increments, starting on Oct. 28. Others are likely to follow suit.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has pushed for improved integration of renewables into the grid and issued an order in June 2012 requiring each public utility transmission provider to offer intra-hourly transmission scheduling.
"This accomplishment underscores our commitment to operate our transmission system efficiently and, if possible, to reduce renewable energy integration costs. I am proud of the hard work BPA did to implement this important new tool," BPA Administrator Elliot Mainzer said.
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