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NYISO warns clean energy standard will require massive transmission investment

NewYork's grid operator gave Gov. Andrew Cuomo's proposed clean energy standard areality check on how much transmission will be needed for the state to achieve50% renewables by 2030 and cautioned regulators to take a hard look attransmission before going forward with the proposal.

TheNew York ISO filedcomments on July 8 with the New York Public Service Commission on Cuomo'sproposal to subsidize nuclear and renewable energy as a means of cuttingstatewide emissions by 40% from 1990 levels and procuring 50% of New York'selectricity from renewable energy by 2030.

TheNYISO told the commission that in one scenario it is likely nearly 1,000 milesof new bulk power transmission will be needed to avoid west-to-easttransmission constraints as the state integrates more renewable energyresources. In order for Cuomo's initiative to be successful, the grid operatorstressed new renewable energy resources must be reliably and efficientlyintegrated. Also, "significant additional system investment" beyondthe AC Transmission and Western New York public policy initiatives, each ofwhich is currently underway, will be needed, the NYISO said.

"Giventhe potential gravity and magnitude of the CES-related transmission additions,the NYISO believes it would be prudent for the Commission to study thisquestion in depth before taking any final action to implement the 50% by 30initiative," the NYISO said. "If the systemis undersized at any point between the renewable generator locations and theload centers, renewable generation may likely be curtailed, jeopardizingachievement of 50% by 30 based on the projected build-out."

Thegrid operator recommended that the PSC start considering as soon as possiblefuture transmission projects in order to meet the clean energy standard'senvisioned timeline. These recommendations included new lines to be built ondouble-circuit towers to provide room for additional transmission lines onexisting towers. The NYISO also warned of undersized sub-transmission systemspotentially curtailing renewable generation to maintain local grid reliability.

TheNYISO based its findings on projections from the New York Department of PublicService that 34,000 GWh of new renewable energy a year will be needed by 2030to meet the clean energy standard, with 90%, or 17,000 MW, of the state's totalrenewables generation anticipated to be located in upstate New York.Approximately 29,000 GWh of new renewable generation a year will come fromwholesale generators, while behind-the-meter projects will generate about 5,000GWh a year.

Thegrid operator estimated that the 50% renewables generation resource mix by 2030will increase the state's installed reserve margin from 17.5% to between 40%and 45%. As a result, the state will be required to find additional amounts ofnameplate capacity, it said.

TheNYISO also said it will become necessary to commit more flexible, dispatchableresources to accommodate higher magnitude ramping events on the grid. The gridoperator noted that the expected up-ramp and down-ramp patterns thatwill occur under the expected load have not historically been experienced andmanaged before by RTOs and ISOs.