MISO interconnection proves costly for solar, wind, storage: Berkeley Lab

In an early release of an analysis of interconnection costs, researchers at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said those costs in MISO are greater for solar, wind and storage project than for natural gas. It cited broader network upgrade expenses as the primary driver behind the higher costs.

The upcoming report is one in a series of studies of generator interconnection costs for MISO, PJM, SPP, ISO-NE and NYISO.

Electric transmission system operators require new large generators seeking to connect to the grid to undergo a series of impact studies before they can be built. This process establishes what new transmission equipment or upgrades may be needed before a project can connect to the system and assigns the costs of that equipment.

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For its analysis, Berkeley Lab collected interconnection cost data from interconnection studies for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) representing nearly 50% of all projects requesting interconnection from 2010 to 2020.

It said that while interconnection costs vary by location, average interconnection costs across MISO have grown as the number of interconnection requests has grown. It said that projects that have completed all required interconnection studies have the lowest cost compared to applicants still working through the process.

interconnection costs fig. 1
Source: Berkeley Lab

In late September, MISO said it received 956 interconnection requests representing 171 GW of new generation, a record volume during its 2022 Generator Interconnection Queue application period. 

Of the total, MISO said that 164 GW (or 96%) were for proposed renewable or storage resources. In 2021, volume totaled 487 applications for 77 GW of capacity.

The 2022 submittals topped the previous high for a third year in a row. The volume reflects an acceleration of the resource transition, a trend that MISO said it identified in its Renewable Integration Impact Assessment and by initial trends identified in its Regional Resource Assessment. 

“At this point, we are experiencing exponential growth in the queue,” said Andy Witmeier, director – resource utilization. 

In July, MISO’s board approved 18 transmission projects representing $10.3 billion in new investment through Tranche 1 of its Long Range Transmission Planning effort. These projects are slated to be included in the 2022 GIQ studies. 

Additionally, Congress’ approval of the Inflation Reduction Act increases the production tax credits available to renewable energy sources. 

Join us on Feb. 6, 2023 in San Diego for the inaugural GridTECH Connect Forum, the only event that brings together utility leaders and distributed energy resource developers to overcome the challenges associated with interconnection. Learn more about the new, regional event from Clarion Energy today.

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Author: Renewable Energy World

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