MISO leaders share insights at Midwest legal forum

Two MISO thought-leaders were on hand as the Energy Bar Association Midwest Chapter explored some of the most important energy topics on the horizon during its annual meeting March 6-7 in Milwaukee.

Kari Bennett, executive director of External Affairs, provided insights about the growth and value of Regional Transmission Organizations. Bennett pointed to MISO’s increasing value proposition for its members and energy consumers.

“MISO’s footprint has developed over time, and our strategic focus has also evolved to ensure we are constantly delivering the greatest value for our members,” she explained.

MISO provided nearly $3 billion in benefits to members in 2016. Bennett noted MISO’s success in integrating the South region into the RTO.

“The South’s stakeholders came to MISO with some foundational expectations – fostering new transmission projects, improving reliability, providing transparency and accountability, and investing in the region and local communities,” Bennett said. “MISO’s regional approach to grid planning and consistent management has created significant value for those members.”

MISO and other RTOs also provide significant value by helping customers navigate challenges and reap benefits of more cost-effective generation sources, such as natural gas and wind.

Scott Wright, MISO’s executive director for Strategic Planning, discussed the electric utility and MISO implications of increased reliance on natural gas as the call on gas-fired resources increases and changes over time.

“MISO has forged a favorable position to support future growth of natural gas-fired generation,” Wright stated. “Natural gas capacity plays an important role in the flexibility of our portfolio and supports reliability at key load times, most notably during the morning ramp on peak winter days when pipeline capacity and flexibility can be in short supply.”

Wright said the industry must continue to collaborate with states, other stakeholders and the gas industry to address future challenges and support gas supply availability and flexibility. New and expanded infrastructure, as well as supporting products and services that enable generators to meet RTO dispatch requirements, will be needed as the gas fleet changes.

“MISO’s call on natural gas will increase,” Wright said. “This expectation, along with the growth in renewable resources, will continue to be an area of focus in MISO’s long-term strategy – and an area where improvements and change will continue to return value for our members and the people they serve.

Bennett said MISO has made significant strides to prepare for future challenges and opportunities as the industry changes.

“Our strategic objectives reflect our response to the nation’s changing landscape,” Bennett concluded. “To succeed in our vision to be the most reliable, value creating RTO, we will continue to pursue market and grid positioning, serve and grow our membership and provide independent thought leadership in the industry.”

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