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DOE team issues final recommendations for changes to WAPA operations

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An Energy Department task force on strategic changes to the Western Area Power Administration issued a set of 10 final recommendations after deciding not to pursue three other preliminary recommendations. The final recommendations by the DOE Joint Outreach Team (JOT) did not address some of the more controversial proposals in Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s March 16, 2012, memo on changes to the federal power marketing administrations, such as implementation of an energy imbalance market in the West.

The 10 final recommendations call for Western to:
  • develop a consistent methodology for determining the regulation reserve capacity needed by each Western balancing authority;
  • consolidate its four open access same-time information system (OASIS) sites within the Western Interconnection into a single OASIS site;
  • revise its large generator interconnection procedures (LGIP) to conform to changes recommended by WestConnect’s LGIP Work Group;
  • evaluate the potential to standardize transmission and ancillary service rate methodologies;
  • initiate processes in Western’s Desert Southwest, Rocky Mountain, and Colorado River Storage Project (CRSP) service areas to identify opportunities for increased integration of transmission systems within each region;
  • continue to work with regional reliability organizations to implement intra-hour scheduling, including 15-minute scheduling;
  • participate in regional and sub-regional efforts to find ways to integrate variable resources cost-effectively;
  • evaluate the transmission and ancillary services rates charged by each Western-owned transmission project and determine the feasibility of developing new transmission products;
  • evaluate its integrated resource planning program; and
  • engage customers and stakeholders to evaluate efforts within the WECC footprint to move from a contract-path to a flow-based approach. "As part of Western’s analysis, it should ensure that outcomes are cost-effective, benefits are clearly identifiable, and costs are neutral, or that any cost-shift is minimized," the team said.
The draft recommendation to perform a Western-wide infrastructure investment study should be dropped because it would duplicate activities under way within Western’s Asset Management Program as well as transmission planning activities that WAPA regularly engages in either internally or externally with its customers and stakeholders, the report on the final recommendations said.

A draft recommendation to hire a "Renewable Energy Liaison" should not move forward "due to concerns regarding funding for the position and possible duplication of efforts with work being performed elsewhere within Western and DOE," the team said. A draft recommendation to look at transferring the Electric Power Training Center to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory has been superseded by a re-evaluation of an earlier decision to close the training center, the team said.

In response to input received during the stakeholder process, the JOT said it developed a set of principles used to guide the development of the recommendations; those principles are:
  • Consider the unique attributes of Western’s regions;
  • Coordinate with federal generating agencies;
  • Ensure that the beneficiary or user of the system pays;
  • Build on the existing efforts already underway within Western; and
  • Ensure that Western stays within the limits of its authority.

The team said it also recognized the need to acknowledge the potential impacts associated with implementing any of the proposed recommendations, "e.g., the potential for cost shifts, the need for Western’s customers, tribes, industry peers, and other stakeholders to be a part of the evaluation process." —ROBERT VARELA


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