On Monday, FERC hosted a technical conference entitled, Integrating Renewable Resources Into the Wholesale Electric Grid. Attention at the conference centered on the challenges that intermittent resources pose to the transmission system, as well as which entities should be responsible for regional planning.

After opening remarks by Acting Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, and keynote remarks by the Honorable Lauren Azar (Commissioner at the Wisconsin Public Service Commission and President of the Organization of MISO States) and Richard Sergel (President and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”)), the conference featured three panels, entitled Transmission and System Planning to Enhance Integration of Renewable Energy; Operational Challenges and Innovative Solutions to Integrating Renewable Resources into Wholesale Electric Markets While Maintaining Bulk Power System Reliability; and, Examination of Operational or Dispatch Provisions of Wholesale Tariffs and Market Rules.

The panelists and speakers were in near-agreement regarding the need for an extra high voltage (“EHV”) overlay transmission system and that an EHV overlay poses difficult logistical and policy challenges. Not surprisingly, the consensus did not extend to the question of who should coordinate regional planning efforts. The state commissioners in attendance favored planning at the state level, representatives of regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”) advocated expanding existing RTO planning procedures, and others argued that an interconnection-wide planning entity could best coordinate planning efforts.

The Conference participants offered many solutions for enabling higher penetration of intermittent resources like wind and solar into the grid. Among the solutions discussed were consolidating balancing areas, increasing responsiveness between balancing areas, energy storage technologies including battery and flywheel technology, more rapid ramping capability for non-renewable generation, integrating better forecasting techniques, intra-hour balancing, demand response, smart grid, and a more robust transmission grid, including an “interstate highway system” of EHV lines.

A list of speakers and their prepared statements and presentations is available on the Commission’s website at: