MISO is ‘Ramp-ing’ up its Energy Markets

Spring is here which means warmer days and more time to play outside with family and friends. If you aren’t yet feeling the vibe, check out the 2015 Value Prop/backyard BBQ story we posted a couple of weeks ago. That will get you in the mood to fire up the grill.

Spring is also the time of year when MISO prepares for the challenges that come with higher temperatures. Challenges like increased electricity usage and swings in electricity consumption and output. MISO’s 5-minute dispatch signal accommodates the majority of changes on the system.  Our operators keep an eye on and adjust generation output up or down (ramp up/ramp down).   However, changes that occur beyond the 5-minute signal can hinder MISO’s ability to ramp up/down quickly enough to balance supply and demand. This in turn can lead to the appearance of scarcity which can trigger substantial price increases.

Let’s think about it another way. We’ll go back to the BBQ analogy because … well, I’m hungry and I like to talk about food. To get the best burgers possible, you heat the grill to 400 degrees and then throw on the patties. (Quick tip from Bobby Flay – the patty centers should be about 1/2-inch thick while the perimeters remain 3/4-inch thick. When the burgers plump up on the grill, they will turn out flat.) After you close the lid on the grill you head inside  to watch [insert favorite baseball team]. A few minutes later when you check on the burgers, you see the wind is blowing like crazy and the temperature on the grill dropped.  So you turn up the dial (ramp up the heat) and head back inside. A second trip outside requires you turn the heat back down (ramp down) to get the grill to that perfect 400 degrees.  One more minute and you are heading inside with the thick, juicy, flat burgers.  Ramp capability at its finest, well done!

Ramp capability in electricity markets

Ramping up and ramping down happens all the time across the MISO footprint. On May 1st MISO will launch its new voluntary ramp capability product.  The mechanism provides a more realistic price signal that incentivizes generators to respond to unexpected changes in electricity usage or the intermittent output of wind turbines – just like your nob on the gas grill. This makes it much easier for MISO to prevent scarcity conditions that create unnecessarily high energy prices.

For a deeper dive into the new Ramp Capability product, visit the Ramp Enhancement page on the MISO website.  For a great burger … I’m partial to Bru Burger here in the Indianapolis area.  Bon appétit!

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