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What others think: Getting power work takes time

The message gets repetitious: There needs to be more electrical power transmission capacity in and from North Dakota ... more transmission capacity ... more ... So, isn’t the answer as simple as stringing a bunch of lines? The fact is, no. The power has to have somewhere to go and must travel by an extraordinarily complex network of technology. For our area it’s managed by a strange entity called the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator. ...All told, he wrote, Midwest’s queue has 224 wind projects, a 64 percent increase in one year. Not all will make it through the process; actually only 32 percent will end up connecting and producing. About 40 percent of requests drop out before even commencing the required FERC study. And 10 percent of those in the queue don’t help matters at all, because they’re just sitting on approvals, making no effort for up to three years, while a wind farm planned for Elgin could be taking one of those places in line. It becomes more apparent why there is not unseemly haste to string lines.

The message gets repetitious: There needs to be more electrical power transmission capacity in and from North Dakota ... more transmission capacity ... more ...

So, isn’t the answer as simple as stringing a bunch of lines?

The fact is, no. The power has to have somewhere to go and must travel by an extraordinarily complex network of technology. For our area it’s managed by a strange entity called the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator.

The strangeness comes in its being a voluntary association of member utilities formed as a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. The ITO in its name is a bit confusing, since technically it’s an RTO, a regional transmission operator, that has 93,600 miles of interconnected, high-voltage lines in 15 U.S. states and the province of Manitoba.

Think of it mainly as a clearinghouse for passing along electrical power from its source at a generator to its ultimate consumers, many in a far distant location from a coal-fired plant, a nuclear generator, a gas-fired plant or increasingly, wind farms.

The trouble is, the Midwest ISO is a largely clogged... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

The message gets repetitious: There needs to be more electrical power transmission capacity in and from North Dakota ... more transmission capacity ... more ...

So, isn’t the answer as simple as stringing a bunch of lines?

The fact is, no. The power has to have somewhere to go and must travel by an extraordinarily complex network of technology. For our area it’s managed by a strange entity called the Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator.

The strangeness comes in its being a voluntary association of member utilities formed as a nonprofit 501(c)(4) organization. The ITO in its name is a bit confusing, since technically it’s an RTO, a regional transmission operator, that has 93,600 miles of interconnected, high-voltage lines in 15 U.S. states and the province of Manitoba.

Think of it mainly as a clearinghouse for passing along electrical power from its source at a generator to its ultimate consumers, many in a far distant location from a coal-fired plant, a nuclear generator, a gas-fired plant or increasingly, wind farms.

The trouble is, the Midwest ISO is a largely clogged clearinghouse. It’s not that the grid doesn’t work just fine. The snag is the process of hooking in a new power source. On average, it now takes 19 months but can take much longer.

To be sure, there’s paperwork, studies and so forth. But proposed projects line up in what’s called a queue, last received, last in line, whether it’s a modest wind farm envisioned for Grant County or the big coal-fired plant proposed for Center.

North Dakota alone has 42 projects in the Midwest queue; nine are approved and waiting and 33 projects are farther back in line.

Midwest President T. Graham Edwards responded in November to governors of seven states, including North Dakota’s, who earlier had urged the grid association to do what it could to expedite the time frame faced by wind projects. There are ways. The Federal Energy Regulatory Agency could give really small wind projects — those generating up to 20 megawatts — a rule providing fairly quick approval for hooking in.

But the executive sounded some cautionary notes to the governors. All told, he wrote, Midwest’s queue has 224 wind projects, a 64 percent increase in one year. Not all will make it through the process; actually only 32 percent will end up connecting and producing. About 40 percent of requests drop out before even commencing the required FERC study. And 10 percent of those in the queue don’t help matters at all, because they’re just sitting on approvals, making no effort for up to three years, while a wind farm planned for Elgin could be taking one of those places in line. It becomes more apparent why there is not unseemly haste to string lines.

The positive thing is that smart people are working on expanding the grid and making hookups come more quickly. Midwest’s regional transmission expansion plan is ambitious: $2.2 billion through 2013, 28 new grid projects and the list could grow. It’s to be hoped that Crownbutte Wind Power LLC, of Mandan, is patient and persistent, so that the Elgin wind farm can get up and spinning sooner than later.


Source: http://www.jamestownsun.com...

JAN 11 2008
http://www.windaction.org/posts/12755-what-others-think-getting-power-work-takes-time
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