Future for Energy Industries Subject of MISO Study

Think of all the future planning you do for your child’s college education, how long your car will last before you need to buy a new one, or when it’s time to move to a new house. Now, imagine the depth of study and planning that is part of future outlooks for electric utilities. Many factors come into play, such as power plant retirements, decarbonization policies and the growing influx of renewable resources, to name a few.

The newly released “MISO Futures Report” (April 2021) uses forward-looking planning scenarios to analyze what the future could look like in the electric utility marketplace. “Different ranges of economic, policy and technological possibilities are forecast over a 20-year period. MISO will then apply the Futures’ expansion results to the development of transmission plans, long-range transmission planning and other MISO initiatives that ensure the reliability of the MISO grid coupled with economic energy delivery,” observed Aubrey Johnson, executive director of MISO system planning and competitive transmission.

Forward-looking planning helps MISO with its important role as the grid operator to support its member utilities, state policymakers and regulators as they continuously refine how to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of electricity to the 42 million people in MISO’s footprint.

“There was a great deal of collaboration between MISO and the stakeholders over an 18-month period to develop the three Future scenarios that bookend the uncertainty over the next 20 years,” said Tony Hunziker, manager of policy and regulatory planning. “MISO heard a clear message of urgency from its stakeholders to move quickly from identifying high-level needs to providing solutions that allow states and utilities to reach their energy transition goals more expeditiously,” he added.

Three “Future Scenarios” are at the center of this report:

  • Future 1: envisions the substantial achievement of state and utility announcements and includes a 40% carbon dioxide reduction target (63% was actually realized in the study results, driven by announced retirements and plans). This Future also incorporates 100% of utility integrated resource plans (IRP) and 85% of utility/state announcements, which results in the retirement of 77 GW and the addition of 121 GW of other resources.  Demand and energy growth are driven by existing economic factors, with small increases in electric vehicle (EV) adoption, resulting in an annual energy growth rate of 0.5%.
  • Future 2: builds on Future 1 by incorporating 100% of utility IRPs and announced state and utility goals within their respective timelines. The modeling of Future 2 results in the retirement of 80 GW and the addition of 160 GW of other resources. It also includes a 60% carbon dioxide reduction target (64% was actually realized driven by announced retirements and plans) and an increase in electrification, which drives an approximate 1.1% annual energy growth rate.
  • Future 3: advances from Future 2 and incorporates 100% of utility IRPs and announced state and utility goals within their respective timelines. The modeling of Future 3 results in the retirement of 112 GW and the addition of 330 GW of other resources. It also includes an 80% carbon dioxide reduction and a minimum penetration of 50% wind and solar. Future 3 introduces a larger electrification scenario, driving an approximate 1.7% annual energy growth rate.

“At an aggregate level, there is a dramatic and rapid transformation underway of the resource mix in the MISO footprint,” said Jeremiah Doner, director, economic policy and planning. “As the energy fleet transforms, the need to keep the system operating reliably and efficiently is driving many changes throughout the MISO footprint. These changes present challenges and opportunities facing MISO, states and utilities, and is identified by MISO as the ‘Reliability Imperative’,” he added.

A key element of MISO’s response to the Reliability Imperative is our Long Range Transmission Planning (LRTP) initiative, which will utilize the Future scenarios as an essential component of those efforts. Interested stakeholders can participate in the upcoming LRTP workshop on April 30, 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. ET. Check misoenergy.org for further details.