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Houston — The Midcontinent Independent System Operator has so far placed 1,157 MW of new generation into service this year, almost all natural gas-fired, and it has another 2.8 GW under construction to be finished in the remainder of 2019, an interconnection status report compiled Tuesday shows.

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In all, natural gas-fired generation makes up about 2,051 MW of what is slated to come online in 2019 in MISO, while 1,930 MW is to be renewable - 1,536 MW of wind, 325 MW of solar and 70 MW of hydropower. The hydro and natural gas capacity listed is for the summer, while solar and wind capacity is nameplate.

Entergy Louisiana is the big generation developer overall, developing more than 1.8 GW of gas-fired generation, of which 904 MW came online in May in St. Charles Parish, and another 934 MW is under construction in Calcasieu Parish.

Most of Louisiana is in the MISO South region, which also includes parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas.

"MISO South has no consistent [request for proposal] rules to allow for competitive solicitations; thus, the likely replacement of the thousands of megawatts of old gas power plants will be self builds," said Chip Estes, managing director of Utilicom Consulting Group.

"That process, however, is constrained by the need for investor-owned utilities to maintain their debt to equity ratios," Estes said in an email Tuesday.

MISO emphasizes that its "value proposition" consists, in part, in the deferral of new generation construction, Estes said, and the generation interconnection process can take more than 500 days, which together create "tremendous challenges for any type of generation to be built," Estes said.

WIND PROJECTS

Wind projects, of which 1.5 GW of nameplate capacity is under construction for completion in 2019 in MISO, are more geographically dispersed, with 600 MW in Iowa, about 504 MW in Indiana, about 202 MW in Illinois and 150 MW in Minnesota. The latter already had about 3.7 GW of wind capacity as of the end of 2017, the latest year for which the US Energy Information Administration has issued a Minnesota state energy profile.

MISO's current Corporate Fact Sheet webpage list on Tuesday listed 19,086 MW of registered, in-service wind capacity.

"Gas-fired plants will be built near pipelines," said Gurcan Gulen, principal at the G2 Energy Insights consultancy. "So, it is not surprising to see a lot of new gas plants in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Texas and other areas where there is significant gas production and pipeline networks."

Gas-fired plants are usually "getting built because it makes commercial sense based on market price signals," Gulen said in an email Tuesday. "In contrast, wind and solar are built mostly thanks to subsidies and mandates, which contribute significantly to attractive [power purchase agreement] prices."

Matthew Cordaro, a former MISO CEO who now resides in New York, noted that wind generation capacity in MISO's Central and Northern regions "is very high in comparison to solar, which results in pressure to increase solar capacity."

The growth of wind and solar has prompted louder calls for expanded transmission capacity, Gulen said.

"Although this makes a certain sense since better (and best) wind and solar resources are often located far away from load centers ... new [transmission] investment is a 'system integration cost' of renewables," Gulen said. "It will not be cheap. It will not be easy to get the [rights of way], etc., across multiple jurisdictions. Importantly, new [transmission and distribution] costs will not show in wholesale prices but they will show on customer bills."

MISO generation projects in 2019
Currently in service
State Type Capacity (MW)
Louisiana Natural gas 904
Michigan Hydro 70
Michigan Natural gas 183
Under construction
State Type Capacity (MW)
Illinois Wind 202.4
Indiana Solar 175
Indiana Wind 503.6
Iowa Solar 100
Iowa Wind 600
Louisiana Natural gas 933.8
Michigan Wind 80
Minnesota Solar 50
Minnesota Wind 150
Wisconsin Natural gas 30
Note: Summer capacity is listed for hydro and natural gas. Nameplate capacity is listed for solar and wind.
Source: Midcontinent Indepenent System Operator

-- Mark Watson, markham.watson@spglobal.com

-- Edited by Richard Rubin, newsdesk@spglobal.com