On Oct. 4, the Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC) issued its 2018 “State of the Grid” report, which addresses the often-asked questions of whether the grid is reliable today and whether planners in the Eastern Interconnection are coordinating their planning efforts. The answer to both questions is a resounding “Yes.”
As the call for resilience across aspects of the transmission grid increases, so does the need for coordination among different entities. That’s where the EIPC comes in.
The EIPC is a first-of-its-kind collaborative, made up of the Planning Authorities throughout the Eastern Interconnection, one of four interconnections. (The others are the Western Interconnection (WECC), Texas (ERCOT), and Quebec, Canada). EIPC was founded in 2009 as a vehicle for broad-based, transparent, interactive planning dialogue with interested industry stakeholders, including:
- State and federal policy makers
- Consumer and environmental interests
- Transmission planners
- Market participants generating, transmitting or consuming electricity within the Eastern Interconnection
“The work of EIPC is unique given the size and diversity of the Eastern Interconnection, which stretches from Maine to Florida and from the Atlantic to the Rockies,” said Craig Glazer, vice president – Federal Government Policy and a member of EIPC’s Executive Committee. “The EIPC provides for coordination not just among neighboring planning authorities, but from all the planning authorities in the Eastern Interconnection.
“In this way, it provides a first-of-its kind interconnection-wide look and review of how the individual plans fit together and advance the reliability of this vast grid, which is so critical to the nation’s economic and social health and well-being. EIPC will facilitate development of the grid going forward, in a coordinated manner.”
Chuck Liebold, manager – Interregional Planning, is a former chair of the group’s Technical Committee. He said the report summarizes the EIPC’s extensive work, including the “roll-up reports” that combine the individual plans of each of the major planning coordinators (see separate box) in the Eastern Interconnection.
The reports verify that the individual plans work together to maintain bulk power system reliability throughout the interconnection.
While this is the first comprehensive report, EIPC has released reports on various activities over time – some public, some for the benefit of the planning coordinator members.
One of the drivers for the formation of EPIC was efforts by regulators and policy makers to open access to the transmission system and reform transmission planning. This began with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 890 and continued through subsequent related orders.
One of these related orders, FERC Order 1000, requires coordinated planning between neighboring systems, but does not require coordination of planning over a broader footprint. EIPC efforts provide an additional forum to complement interregional coordination of the combined plans of the regional planning coordinators on an interconnection-wide basis.
“Our job is to provide information related to the impact of the public policies, such as connecting renewables to the grid,” Liebold said. “We look at different scenarios of changing generation mixes in the future and other various future conditions.
“Our analyses would include impacts of cross-regional resources like pseudo-ties. We fill in any gaps in transmission planning by looking at the regional plans all put together.”
He added that the roll-up analyses are not based on speculative futures but based on actual plans under the planning coordinators’ umbrella for the regions located in the Eastern Interconnection.
“This ‘roll-up’ planning goes beyond federal, state and local requirements, looking at Eastern Interconnection effects of plans,” said Liebold, “it’s the bread-and-butter, year-in, year-out stuff.”
Another one of the drivers in EIPC’s formation was the emerging public policies around energy and the desires of state and federal policymakers to better understand energy issues.
“One of the report’s objectives is to provide policymakers and regulators with information that can inform their decisions,” said Glazer. “It’s a way to look at planning the grid in a holistic manner.
“The report gives them objective information from those of us who are directly charged with the responsibility of planning a safe, reliable and resilient transmission grid. Armed with that information, the regulators can work with us on a number of issues. That is especially important in the long run, as we look at the changing fuel mix and cost efficiencies.”
Studies completed by the EIPC identify impacts and potential gaps among the regional plans and refer results to the respective regional planners. These studies demonstrate, and the report concludes, that transmission planning and interconnection processes have yielded transmission plans that are well-coordinated on a regional and interconnection-wide basis.
EIPC studies also show that Planning Coordinators’ regional transmission plans, including generator retirements and additions, will require continued study enhanced by broader interconnection-wide coordination to ensure that individual regional plans do not conflict with other regional plans.
EIPC membership includes:
Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc.; Cube Hydro Carolinas, LLC; Duke Energy Carolinas, Duke Energy Florida, and Duke Energy Progress; Louisville Gas & Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company; Florida Power & Light Company; Georgia Transmission Corporation (An Electric Membership Corporation); ISO New England, Inc.; JEA; Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc.; Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia; New York Independent System Operator, Inc.; PJM Interconnection; PowerSouth Energy Cooperative; South Carolina Electric & Gas Company; South Carolina Public Service Authority (Santee Cooper); Southern Company Services Inc., as agent for Alabama Power Company, Georgia Power Company, Gulf Power Company, and Mississippi Power Company; Southwest Power Pool, Inc., and the Tennessee Valley Authority.