EME 801
Energy Markets, Policy, and Regulation

A Cautionary Tale from Vermont

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Before you get into the details of the lesson, please have a look at the following story from the New York Times about wind farms in Vermont:

Intermittent Nature of Green Power Is Challenge for Utilities.

 Screen capture of a New York Times article: Title and image of wind turbines.
Intermittent Nature of Green Power Is Challenge for Utilities.
Credit:New York Times

As you are reading the story, think about the following questions (these would apply to solar as well as wind, but since the story is specifically about wind, we’ll pick on wind to frame the questions). Clearly the integration of wind into the Vermont electric grid (which is interconnected to the rest of the New England grid) has not gone as smoothly as we might have hoped.

  • Why does one wind farm in Vermont represent a challenge for ISO New England, which is the RTO that operates the electric transmission system in all of New England (not just Vermont)? Isn’t this one wind farm too small to have much of an impact, relative to the entire New England power grid?
  • What has ISO New England done in response to that challenge?
  • How have other generation resources within Vermont or the New England grid been impacted?
  • What is the impact of ISO New England’s operational rules and market structures on the financial viability of wind energy in Vermont? Of other generators in New England, given increasing wind penetration in the New England grid?
  • Do you see any conflicts or complementarities between ISO New England’s operational rules and the desire of states within the ISO New England footprint to increase their utilization of renewable energy?

If you have any reactions to the above questions, or to the story more generally, please feel free to post to the Lesson 7 discussion forum early in the week!