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Transmission coordinators issue progress report on North America's eastern grid

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Transmission coordinators issue progress report on North America's eastern grid

A coalition of 20 major utilities, electric cooperatives, power authorities and electric grid operators overseeing the power grid encompassing approximately two-thirds of the United States and Canada have issued a report affirming that the individual systems in the Eastern Interconnection are "being planned in a coordinated manner."

The Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative, or EIPC, on Oct. 3 issued its "State of the Eastern Interconnection," which summarizes collective transmission planning by EIPC since its inception in 2009 and includes study results and analyses of those efforts. The Eastern Interconnection covers most of five of the North American Electric Reliability Corp., or NERC, regions: the Florida Reliability Coordinating Council; the Midwest Reliability Organization; the Northeast Power Coordinating Council (exclusive of Québec, which is not part of the Eastern Interconnection; the Reliability First Corp.; and the SERC Reliability Corp.

Other topics covered in the report include EIPC's "roll-up" studies, which combine the individual plans of each of the major planning coordinators in the Eastern Interconnection and verify that those plans are working together to maintain bulk power system reliability throughout the region.

In addition, the roll-up studies identify potential constraints resulting from interconnection-wide power flow interactions and provide feedback to help planning coordinators enhance their regional plans. The roll-up reports also are used to analyze various future scenarios of interest for state policymakers and other stakeholders and to extend collaborative activities started under a U.S. Department of Energy grant in 2010 to study a potential build out of the eastern transmission system under a wide range of scenarios and resource mixes.

Among other things, the EIPC report showed that planning coordinators' regional transmission plans, which take into account generator retirements and additions, will need continued study. The report found that these studies of regional transmission plans should be enhanced by broader interconnection-wide coordination efforts to ensure that individual regional plans do not conflict with other regional plans.

Notably, the EIPC report said the collective group has been in discussions with NERC on potentially assuming responsibility for managing the Multiregional Modeling Working Group, or MMWG, which develops various models used in planning future performance and evaluating current operating conditions of the interconnected bulk electric systems of the Eastern Interconnection.

"EIPC believes it can become the group to manage the MMWG in its work to compile power flow and dynamics cases that are made available to meet the industry's needs for baseline projections of the Eastern Interconnection transmission grid development," said the report. However, EIPC said the discussions on MMWG management are on hold until the completion of both leadership transitions at NERC and its regional entities and the implementation of their updated strategic plans.

EIPC's members also are developing an interconnection-wide production cost model that may be suitable as a starting point for individual planning coordinators when updating their respective models. Additionally, the group is focused on improving system models for the east in how analyses are conducted when examining trends in future year frequency responses, in support of NERC's Essential Reliability Services Working Group and the NERC Long Term Reliability Assessment.