Regional grid helps, not hurts, distributed generation
Creating a regional Transmission System Operator for the West will greatly aid the integration of all renewable energy sources, large and small. Leading western renewable energy and environmental advocates joined me in coauthoring a recent article published in the influential publication Greentech Media making the case that a regional grid helps, not hurts, distributed renewable energy.
The idea has broad acceptance from grid experts, but a small group of advocates have sought to block needed California legislation that would allow the regional grid to form.
Every analysis of grid modernization for renewable energy that has been done to date (NREL, NOAA, Western Governors Association, Brattle, E3, to name but a few) call for increased coordination of transmission systems and reducing the number of balancing areas in the West to capture grid efficiencies and lower costs. Regional grid integration allows the electrical system to reliably add large amounts of renewable energy into the grid in a rapid yet orderly way. The bigger the overall system footprint, the easier it is to meet ambitious renewable goals.
Joining me as coauthors on the Greentech Media article are some of the most respected environmental and renewable energy leaders in the West, including Ed Smeloff, Vote Solar’s Managing Director for Regulatory affairs; Dr. Liz Anthony, Director of Grid Policy for Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT); Jennifer Gardner, Staff Attorney for the Colorado-based regional organization Western Resource Advocates (WRA); Fred Heutte, Senior Policy Associate for the Northwest Energy Coalition and a director of the Citizens Utility Board of Oregon; Ron Lehr, former Chairman, Colorado Public Utilities Commission and a widely respected advocate for renewable power; Megan O’ Reilly, director, Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy (NM); and, Amanda Ormond, Managing Director, Western Grid Group, and former director of the Arizona Energy Office.
All of us support distributed generation as an important part of meeting the ambitious climate goals needed to keep the planet livable. We all believe a regionally integrated western grid deploying resources through a coordinated wholesale electricity market is critically needed if we are to be successful.