On January 20, 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) posted a report  by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (“LBNL”) called “Use of Frequency Response Metric to Assess the Planning and Operating Requirements for Reliable Integration of Variable Renewable Generation” along with its five supplementary papers (together, the “Report”).  FERC initiated and funded the study through the Office of Electric Reliability.

The Report presents an approach to identifying metrics which are “useful” for running and planning a reliable system that has larger amounts of variable renewable generation.  The Report includes a set of metrics or tools to measure frequency response in an interconnection using the concept of frequency nadir (or lowest point).  In this case, frequency response is a term to describe how a power system has performed in responding to the sudden loss of generation.  The Report uses primary frequency response as the leading metric to determine the primary frequency control reserves necessary to ensure reliable operation when there is a sudden lost of generation.  The Report also uses nadir-base frequency response to indicate the amount of generation lost in relation to declining frequency.

The research team from LBNL applied the metrics to simulation studies of U.S. interconnection and found that wind generation capacity projected in 2012 can be reliably integrated in the Western and Texas interconnections.  The research team also found that project wind capacity can be reliably integrated into the Eastern interconnection using a slightly modified approach to the metrics mentioned above.

Based on the results of the research team, they recommended the following: (1) efforts should be accelerated to better understand interconnection- and balancing authority-specific requirements for frequency control, especially in the Eastern Interconnection; (2) interconnections must schedule adequate primary and secondary frequency control reserves to both manage variations caused by increased levels of wind generation and withstand the sudden loss of generation, which can occur at any time; (3) the frequency control capabilities of the interconnections should be expanded; (4) comprehensive planning and enhanced operating procedures, including training, operating tools, and monitoring systems, should be developed that explicitly consider interactions between primary and secondary frequency control reserves, and address the new source of variability that is introduced by wind generation; and (5) requirements for adequate frequency control should be evaluated in assessments of the operating requirements of the U.S. electric power system when considering new potential sources of generation and the retirement of existing generation.

Chairman Jon Wellinghoff stated that “this study is valuable in that it gives us the tools to help determine how to manage operation and expansion of the grid, regardless of which resources the electric industry uses to generate power.” FERC invited comments on the study, which are due within 45 days of the study’s issuance.

A copy of the presentation of the report at FERC’s meeting is available here.

Copies of the five supplementary reports are available here.