Challenges That Independent System Operators Face When Dealing With Wind Power


While federal and provincial subsidies spur development of renewable energy, wind power can pose challenges, as well as opportunities, for independent system operators (ISOs).

During the session, ‘Integrating Wind Energy on the Grid: Challenges and Opportunities,’ representatives from ISOs in Canada and the U.S. gave Canadian Wind Energy Association Annual Conference and Exhibition attendees a deeper understanding of what it takes to get wind onto the grid.

The challenge, according to the representatives, is dealing with the variability and uncertainty of wind power. Wind is a valuable resource, but it must be supported by other types of generation in order to balance the load and ensure grid reliability, they said.

‘In Alberta, we're looking a nuclear, hydro and examining strong interties with our neighbors,’ said John Kehler, senior technical specialist at the Alberta Electric System Operator.

Meanwhile, the New England Independent System Operator uses pump storage and, increasingly, demand-response resources to counter balance wind energy, said John Norden, manager of renewable resource integration.

‘No matter what type of wind farm gets built, it's the job of the independent system operator to find a way to optimize and maximize the wind regime,’ he noted.

Challenges are not limited to load balancing. Transmission is also a big concern in Canada and the U.S.

‘In Ontario, transmission upgrades are critical,’ said Kim Warren, director of planning and assessments for market and system operation at the Independent Electricity System Operator, adding that Ontario's Green Energy Act will only increase wind development and, thus, the need for more transmission.

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