Visit eesi.org/052212economics for more information.
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) held a briefing that challenged widely held assumptions about renewable energy and the infrastructure needed to connect it to the grid. The Midwest’s steady winds could, in theory, power the entire country, according to an analysis conducted in 2010 by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and AWS Truewind, a consultancy. So could solar energy in the Southwest. Moreover, the transmission investments needed to tap the enormous potential of American renewable resources can make the grid more efficient and reliable at the same time. And renewable energy is increasingly competitive in some power markets with traditional fuels like gas and coal. At this briefing, various perspectives regarding the overall economics, capacity and reliability of integrating renewable energy into the grid were presented.
Speakers for this forum were:
John Jimison, Energy Future Coalition, Introductory Remarks
Robert Fagan and Ezra Hausman, Synapse Energy Economics, Inc., an economic consultancy focused on energy markets.
Joe Gardner, Executive Director of Real-Time Operations, Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO), which controls the transmission system in 11 Midwest states and Manitoba, Canada.
Fred Morse, Chairman, USP Division of SEIA and Senior Advisor, Abengoa Solar, a major developer of central-station solar power generation facilities.
James J. Hoecker, Counsel and Advisor, WIRES (Working Group for Investment in Reliable and Economic Electric Systems), former Chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The briefing coincided with the release of a new report, The Potential Rate Effects of Wind Energy and Transmission in the Midwest ISO Region, commissioned by the Energy Future Coalition and produced by Synapse Energy Economics, which concludes that adding more wind power to the Midwest’s grid would place downward pressure on energy market prices and rates, even after factoring in the costs of the additional transmission needed to connect it. Traditional power plants face fuel prices that fluctuate dramatically over time and they must also address regulatory uncertainty and pollution control upgrades, whereas, for example, solar, wind, and geothermal power plants are not subject to such fuel price volatility. What mix of renewable resources and traditional resources is actually the most reliable and cost effective system to meet our energy needs and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions?
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