MISO: Delivering value every day

MISO recently published its annual report card known as the Value Proposition and we’re ready to celebrate. Why? As a not-for-profit organized specifically for the public good, MISO once again achieved its purpose by saving members and their customers between $2 billion and $3 billion dollars. With spring around the corner, we decided to look at how folks could use the MISO membership benefit savings to throw the ultimate backyard barbecue.

Going to the Market (Dispatch of Energy, Regulation & Spin)

Food is top priority at any barbecue. Smart party planners look for the best deals. Our members do the same. The MISO market looks for electricity at the least cost every five minutes, saving members $147 million. That’s enough to buy hot dogs, hamburgers, ribs, chips, sides and drinks for 27 million barbecue enthusiasts.

Great party planners also plan for unexpected guests. Better have extra food on hand so you don’t run out. Our members do this as well; only in the utility business we call it regulation and spinning reserves. Regulation balances energy generated against energy consumed while spinning reserves provide backup in case generation is lost. With MISO, instead of requiring everyone to bring an extra bag of Tostitos to the party, we pool our reserves saving $104 million in 2015. That’s enough to buy barbecue fixings for 19 million surprise guests – including your uninvited in-laws.

Have you seen the ketchup? (Footprint Diversity)

Great neighbors make all the difference, especially when you forget something. Our “neighborhood” includes members stretched across fifteen states. When it’s hot in Missouri but cooler in Michigan, excess electricity in the north can be sent south. Without the MISO, members would be on their own and would need to build an additional 21 combined cycle gas plants to meet the region’s highest energy demands. Building those facilities would cost over a billion dollars. Thanks to our diverse footprint and ability to “share” electricity across our region, we saved $1.6 billion dollars. Incidentally, those savings would buy 511 million bottles of ketchup. With that much ketchup, there won’t be a dry burger in the country!

Go fly a kite (Wind Integration)

Our ultimate barbecue would be hosted in a (really big) backyard on a clear day with a breeze ideal for flying a kite. The best breezes aren’t always close to home. That’s a problem when building wind farms. MISO studies where the best places are for members to build wind farms. That allows turbines to be placed where they will produce the most energy. Our planning resulted in the addition of787 MW of wind generated electricity that comes to a net savings of $347 million – enough to buy our party-goers over 17 million kites (and not the cheap kind either).

Hey, What Happened  to the Music? (Generator Availability)

A party isn’t a party without music. Everyone has a phone loaded with songs and their favorite playlists. Make sure yours is charged and updated with the latest music playing app in case you are called upon to DJ. MISO’s members prepare to serve their customers in a similar fashion. MISO operations incentivize power plant owners to invest in the upkeep of their assets. This upkeep avoids $238 million in annual costs – the amount needed to build 1,694 MW of power plant capacity. That’s enough electricity to charge 339 million smartphones which pretty much guarantees we can steer clear of the day the music died.

Don’t get burned (Compliance)

Food? Check. Music? Check. Sunny day? Check. Wait. Sun? We need sunscreen. MISO is focused on avoiding burns too, but of the regulatory sort. MISO manages compliance activities to meet nearly 4,000 requirements. Before MISO, our members handled these activities themselves. With MISO as a single coordinator, economies of scale are achieved, saving members $104 million dollars. With that much money we can purchase nearly 83 million bottles of SPF 50 sunscreen and avoid getting burned.

Handling the Traffic (Improved Reliability)

All we need now are the partygoers. With so many people expected, we should also expect neighborhood traffic and parking headaches. Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) such as MISO handle energy “traffic” across the transmission system every day. The United States has extremely high reliability, but RTO regions of the country have a slight edge over non-RTO regions. Improved reliability in 2015 saved our members $181 million dollars. That should cover a few traffic handlers to deal with all of the Uber rides coming to the party!

Is it just too much? (Demand Response)

We’ve planned one fantastic barbecue, but we’ll probably have left-overs. No need to waste food when there are people in need. MISO encourages its members to “give-back” to the market through participation in demand response.

We usually think of power plants increasing generation to meet rising power demand, but utilities can also reduce demand i.e. give-back, with demand response technologies. MISO provides incentives that promote demand response resource growth. Since 2009, MISO has encouraged the addition of 800 MW of demand response, avoiding the construction of new resources to generate those megawatts. In 2015, demand response saved members $112 million – that’s enough to feed 1 million people, 3 meals a day every day for one year.

What could be better? (Cost Structure)

There’s only one thing better than a really great party and that’s a really great party that costs less. No need for warehouse discount store membership for our barbecue though.

At MISO “barbecue” costs are measured against savings. In 2015, it cost members $267 million to participate in the MISO. They saved $2.6 billion. Yes, we said billion! Now that’s a great reason to party!

Leave a Comment