Library filed under Transmission from Vermont
Minimum Generation Emergencies generally occur during temperate nights, when power demand is at an annual low. Blomberg said that when this happens, the first generators to be called off are those outside the region. The next generators ISO calls off are the “self-schedulers.” These are the generators that bid into the market at their leisure. Most, if not all, of New England’s renewable energy generators fall into this category of power producers because renewable power less predictable. ...It would be almost impossible for a renewable energy producer to participate in the day-ahead market because the risk is too high.
David Hallquist, the CEO of the Vermont Electric Cooperative, said the Eden Wind turbines would exacerbate the transmission bottleneck. Hallquist said expensive upgrades would be needed to accommodate the 18 megawatts from Eden. "...I can’t imagine any developer spending what could amount to be a hundred million dollars in investment just to put their project on line."
Vermont's largest electric utility knew the limits of its Lowell Mountain wind project and that it would be asked to keep electricity generated there off the grid from time to time, the head of New England's electric grid wrote in a letter to Gov. Peter Shumlin.
Green Mountain Power announced last week that it has reached an agreement with the state that would allow the utility to raise electricity rates by up to 5 percent over the next two years. A 2.5 percent rate hike that would go into effect in October 2013 would pay for upgrades to the Vermont and New England power grid system.
"There's a limit to the amount of power we can transfer out of that area. ... We always work to make sure the system runs in a reliable way. Having an event that could lead to a loss of customers is not a reliable outcome. So, we have to limit the amount of energy that the generators up in that part of the state are injecting into the network."
The move baffles the utility and wind developers. They question why a renewable energy project was scaled back when polluting power plants everywhere in the region were told to run full blast. As the heat wave peaked last Friday, electricity demand in New England soared to almost 28,000 megawatts as people cranked up their air conditioners and fans to keep cool.
That is what's happening in the northern Vermont grid. The transmission load, or appetite for power, in the region is roughly 120 mW, while the generators in that region can produce about 420 mW, according to a Public Service Department white paper submitted to energy legislators Thursday.
In the world of electric transmission it's called "curtailment." At Sheffield and Lowell Mountain, it's meant that even on the windiest of days the regional power grid operator, ISO New England, pulled the plug on power production because there was just too much available from other sources. Newer, non-baseload sources like Lowell got yanked first.
Kenworthy said his company may also limit the development to the unincorporated towns and gores in Essex County, known as the UTGs. The original plan had called for the project to be located in Newark and Brighton as well. Both those towns have organized opposition to the wind project.
Public Service of New Hampshire is interested in municipally owned land near the town's industrial park, prompting Northern Pass opponents to speculate that the company may be changing direction and planning to bring power lines down the Vermont side of the Connecticut River, crossing into New Hampshire at Littleton.
A visit by Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin to Quebec for a meeting with Premier Pauline Marois on Monday has some people in the Northeast Kingdom wondering if Vermont could be considering ways to help Quebec deliver huge reserves of hydropower to U.S. markets through Vermont.
The operators of the New England grid are restricting the amount of electricity being accepted from the three operating wind projects in the Northeast Kingdom and the North Country of New Hampshire. And there's no indication that the restrictions, called curtailments, will end anytime soon.
The problem is the electricity network gets out of synch if the turbines produce more power than is being used at any one time. So ISO issues an order to ramp back power. It's called curtailment. "We are seeing those interconnect issues with other wind projects. As we've seen the Dixville project in New Hampshire was curtailed about 50 percent," Hallquist said.
A federal order issued last fall is intended to make it easier to construct transmission lines, costly and controversial projects that are notoriously tough to build.
State regulators will hear the cases of three landowners opposing easements for transmission line upgrades for Green Mountain Power and Vermont Electric Cooperative. The easements are part of the upgrade approved by VEC members in July, which will in part carry electricity generated by the Lowell wind project.
[Luke Snelling] said the size of the no vote showed that opposition is growing. Opponents will continue to fight the project, he said. Albany and Craftsbury are challenging the project's certificate of public good in court and they are involved in all the permits still outstanding.
Snelling, of Energize Vermont, disputes Hallquist's savings assumptions. There is no guarantee, he said, that Green Mountain Power will sell electricity to the co-op at the 9.6 cent per kilowatt rate. ..."They're making guesses about performance of a project that hasn't been built," Snelling said. "It's a gamble whether those numbers are right.
Shumlin suggested that Vermont, or another state, could “negotiate a preferential price in exchange for hosting that corridor.” “Canada has cheap renewable hydro power that can work as a reliable load (power) when the wind isn’t blowing, and the sun isn’t shining...,” Shumlin said.
What Hallquist did acknowledge to questioner Pat O'Neill (an active opponent of the wind project) is that if Co-op members vote down the proposal, Green Mountain Power's alternative route would not just cost more; Green Mountain Power would also need a new or amended certificate of public good from the Public Service Board.
"I believe these wind towers are an irresponsible choice fiscally," Rep. Vicki Strong said. "We have to be alert and aware of how we spend our money, and this wind project is not an efficient way to do it." Speakers stood at a small podium with the Lowell Mountain ridge as a backdrop.