The massive size and daunting complexity of the US electricity sector means companies often have trouble proving their contributions to their customers’ lives; benefits for the consumer are often counted in things that don’t happen, whether that be price increases or blackouts.
The regional transmission organization that operates one of the world’s largest energy markets across the US Midwest and in the Canadian province of Manitoba is working to quantify those contributions in the form of a 2011 Value Proposition study.
MISO says it has provided between $2.2 billion and $2.7 billion in quantitative benefits for its 11-state and one-province region. The largest savings for the region come in the form of generation that hasn’t had to be built, with MISO claiming its centralized system for clearing $27 billion in energy transactions saved the region $1.4 billion – $1.7 billion through encouraging footprint diversity, improving generator availability and encouraging demand response.
Improved reliability through central planning, performing compliance activities that would otherwise be performed by member utilities and integrating wind all contributed to the organization’s quantified value claims in 2011.
MISO president and CEO John Bear said the savings affirmed the organization’s “collaborative, region-wide approach to grid planning and management” in a statement hailing the study.
MISO launched its energy-only market in 2005 and says that in the years 2007-2011 it saved the region a total of $4.3-5.7 billion.
The role of regional transmission organizations and their structures continue to be a source of debate in the electricity industry, with some generators and customers claiming that the current set-up discourages the retirement of aging generation that would allow much-needed new capacity to be built.