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FERC Approves MISO Queue Reforms

September 9, 2008

Putting its stamp on a proposal generally supported by AWEA and Wind on the Wires, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) conditionally approved queue reforms proposed by the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) in order to make its interconnection process more efficient.

The reforms include moving from a first-come, first-served process to one that factors in a generation project’s likelihood of coming online. Among the reforms is a “fast-track” process for projects that have relatively simple interconnection solutions and that are ready to proceed.

Interconnection log-jams have been a problem for wind farms in many regions, with the problem being among the most acute in MISO.

In comments filed with FERC in July (see Wind Energy Weekly#1298), AWEA regional partner Wind on the Wires (WOW) and AWEA supported the general direction of MISO’s proposed reforms but also emphasized that queue problems will not be solved until more transmission capacity gets built, which must be done through a process that includes proactive planning and regional cost allocation. AWEA and WOW expressed support for changing the current “first-in, first-processed” approach to a milestone-based (i.e., “first-ready, first-processed”) approach.

In submitting its proposal on June 26, MISO reported 402 active generator interconnection requests in its queue, including 135 submitted just in 2008. Wind projects in the Buffalo Ridge, Minn., area alone were seeking to transmit 23,000 MW. According to MISO, under its current rules, it would need until 2050 to process all of the current interconnection requests.

MISO pledged to continue to work with its stakeholders and state agencies to find a way to pre-plan transmission to meet the expected demand for renewable energy projects.