A Comparative Analysis of RTOs’ Integration of Wind Energy + Transmission: ERCOT and MISO

Research Paper
Author:Hnat, Brian, Arts & Sciences UndergraduateUniversity of Virginia ORCID icon orcid.org/0000-0002-6981-5123

Wind energy generation has grown considerably in the United States over the past few decades but has faced several challenges integrating into the electricity grid. While a number of states have implemented renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and other policies as a means to reduce greenhouse gas emissions (GHG), the need for transmission infrastructure to accommodate new generation has not received adequate policy and market incentives. Transmission is critical for deep penetration of renewable energy and bringing zero-carbon electricity to customers for use. This paper focuses on the role regional transmission organizations (RTO), specifically the Midwest Independent System Operator (MISO) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), play in providing support schemes to connect wind energy to the electricity grid. Building on existing literature, I employ a qualitative analysis to uncover what political, social, and financial conditions in the RTO framework are most conducive to promoting wind energy with transmission. My results indicate that, in a wholesale electricity market encompassing multiple states, like in MISO, institutional constraints hinder a rapid buildout of transmission infrastructure. On the other hand, Texas, with its relatively insulated social, political, and financial contexts, was able to promote an earlier, more efficient buildout of its transmission infrastructure to accommodate wind generation. Unified control over transmission planning seems to be the most effective way to encourage renewable energy expansion.

wind energy, regional transmission organization, ERCOT, MISO, GSVSCapstone2020, GSVSCapstone
University of Virginia
Published Date:
May 7, 2020