Lessons Learned from NECEC's Northeast Grid Summit
NECEC recently partnered with New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), National Grid and the Québec Government Offices in Boston and New York to convene a summit of electric grid leaders from across New England and New York. The event included representatives from Hydro-Québec, the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center, the Rhode Island Public Utility Commission, the Connecticut Department of of Energy and Environmental Protection, the New York Power Authority, New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), ISO New England, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Eversource, Con Edison and Avangrid.
The overarching theme that emerged was the region will need a more robust and intelligent grid to interconnect with clean energy, and that states will need to work together to achieve decarbonization in the power sector. Our regional energy system needs to be transformed if we are to hit our collective 2050 and intermediate 2030 and 2040 goals. The challenges that keep us up at night include:
- Adding new transmission capacity while we upgrade existing lines and substations
- Planning for (and building the necessary infrastructure to accommodate) substantial electrified load growth, and a winter peaking system
- Integrating massive volumes of new solar, wind, and other renewable resources onto the grid and having them complement each other as part of a larger working system
- Layering in the brand-new offshore wind side of the equation
- Rationalizing cost recovery/allocation and interconnection rules
- Paving the way for emerging technologies by developing new market rules and products that properly value energy storage and other solutions
- Navigating lengthy permitting and siting processes, while creating meaningful community engagement with an emphasis on equity
- Solving for generation resource adequacy and transmission security minimums while we look to retire aging fossil fuel resources
- Reconciling our respective state-PUC paradigms with ISO-FERC structures and rules
Fortunately, we are not starting from scratch and we have some best practices and lessons learned to share.
- Many grid scale renewable projects are approved and under construction across the region
- New transmission is being built and more is approved in New York
- We have a willing partner in Québec with massive hydro power resource available that can serve as a clean baseload for generation and also act as a huge storage battery
- Requests for Proposals (RFPs) are being prepared for new transmission to integrate offshore wind that will include requests for mesh network ready systems
- Studies have been done by leading experts that identify the needs and possible solutions that would ensure that renewable energy can be reliably and cost-effectively delivered to meet the regions goals
- Benefits must be shared across all communities, including local jobs and community investment
- The collaboration between Hydro Quebec and the Mohawk nation to develop a co-ownership model, providing training and jobs and revenue is an example worth studying and rolling out across the region.
Northeastern states have made significant progress in developing the transmission infrastructure needed to begin the clean energy transition. These successes have been enabled by collaboration between utilities, transmission owners, system operators, regulators, and state energy offices.
In many ways, the Northeast is a leader in this transition and is modeling solutions for the rest of the world. Collaboration between many of the groups attending this event has made that possible, whether it’s working together to reform system planning processes to enable clean energy integration, developing networks to integrate offshore wind, or co-developing bulk projects to address congestion and deliver renewable electricity between regions.
However, our framework for coordination and collaboration must greatly expand to if we are going to successfully power the transition to Net Zero. For this framework to expand, NECEC will convene additional events like this involving key stakeholders and the community to further the conversation and achieve Net Zero together.