Living in the past is not healthy. Is your database up-to-date? EPIS just launched the latest update to the North American Database, version 2016_v4, marking the fourth North American data update this year! Recent changes in the power industry present challenges to database management which will be discussed in this post.
In general, the transformation in power generation sources in the U.S. coupled with evolving electricity demand and grid management represents a paradigm shift in the power sector. In order to accurately model power prices in the midst of such change, one must have a model built on fundamentals and a database that is up-to-date, has reasonable assumptions, is transparent and is flexible. A recent post described the technical side of working with databases in power modeling. This entry outlines important changes in the East Interconnect, the impacts those changes have on data assumptions and configuration and the steps we are taking to provide excellent databases to our clients.
Recent shifts in power generation sources challenge database assumptions and management. New plant construction and generation in the U.S. are heavily weighted towards renewables, mostly wind and solar and as a result, record generation from renewables has been reported across the East Interconnect. Specifically, on April 6, 2016, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) set the record for wind penetration:
Figure 1. Record wind penetration levels in Eastern ISOs compared with average penetration in 2015. SPP holds the record which was reported on April 6, 2016. Record sources: NYISO, SPP, MISO, ISO-NE, PJM. 2015 Averages compiled from ISO reports, for example: NYISO, SPP, MISO, ISO-NE, PJM. *Average 2015 generation used to calculate penetration.
Similarly, the New York City area reached a milestone of over 100 MW in installed solar distributed resources. Accompanying the increase in renewables are increases in natural gas generation and reductions in coal generation. In ISO-NE, natural gas production has increased 34 percent and coal has decreased 14 percent since 2000, as highlighted in their 2016 Regional Electricity Outlook. These rapid changes in power generation sources require frequent and rigorous database updates.
Continued electric grid management changes in the East Interconnect also requires flexibility in databases. One recent change in grid management was the Integrated System joining the Southwest Power Pool, resulting in Western Area Power Administration’s Heartland Consumers Power District, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Upper Great Plains Region joining the RTO. The full operational control changed on October 1, 2015, thus expanding SPPs footprint to 14 states, increasing load by approximately 10 percent and tripling hydro capacity. Grid management change is not new, with the integration of MISO South in 2013 as an example. Changes such as these require flexibility in data configuration that allow for easy restructuring of areas, systems and transmission connections.
Variability in parameters, such as fuel prices and demand, introduce further difficulty in modeling power markets. The so called “Polar Vortex” weather phenomena shocked North Eastern power markets in the winter of 2013/2014 with cold temperatures and high natural gas prices resulting in average January 2014 energy prices exceeding $180/MWh in ISO-NE. It seemed like the polar opposite situation occurred this last winter. December 2015 was the mildest since 1960, and together with low natural gas prices, the average wholesale power price hit a 13-year low at $21/MW. The trend continued into Q1 of 2016:
Figure 2. Monthly average power price in ISO-NE in Q1 2014 and 2016. Variability between years is a result of high natural gas prices and cold weather in 2014 versus low natural gas prices and mild weather in 2016.
Whether extreme events, evolving demand or volatile markets, capturing uncertainty in power modeling databases is challenging. In AURORAxmp, users can go one step further by performing risk simulations; specifying parameters such as fuel prices and demand to vary across a range of simulations. This is a very powerful approach to understanding the implications of uncertainty within the input data.
The aforementioned changes in generation, grid management and demand, offer exciting new challenges to test power market models and data assumptions. To test our platform, EPIS performs a historical analysis as a part of each database release. Inputs of historical demand and fuel prices are used to ensure basic drivers are captured and model output is evaluated not only in terms of capacity, but monthly generation, fuel usage and power prices. The result of this process is a default database that is accurate, current, contains reasonable assumptions, is transparent and is flexible to ensure you have the proper starting point for analysis and a springboard for success.
With the release of North_American_DB_2016_v4, EPIS continues to provide clients with superb data for rigorous power modelling. The 2016_v4 update focuses on the East Interconnect and includes updates to demand, fuels, resources, DSM and other miscellaneous items. Clients can login to our support site now to download the database and full release notes. Other interested parties can contact us for more information.