New Orleans City Council Utility Chair Moreno urges action on regional grid as key to clean energy path
Shortly after the New Orleans City Council passed standards requiring 100 percent carbon-free energy by 2050 and 90 percent within two decades, Council President Helena Moreno followed up with an immediate action to help pave the way for the city to succeed on its policy mandate.
In a May 24, 2021 letter to Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) CEO John Bear, Moreno underscored the importance of long-range transmission planning at MISO needed for “upgrading and expanding the wholesale transmission system to increase the access to low-cost, renewable energy resources.”
Noting the climate-driven urgency of transitioning to more clean energy resources, Moreno singled out MISO’s current Long-Range Transmission Planning Process (LRTP) that provides a long range plan for the grid operator’s 15-state footprint, which includes New Orleans. “We support this vital effort,” Moreno wrote. “MISO’s LRTP aligns with President Biden’s infrastructure proposal and is a critical and necessary step in making sure the transmission infrastructure is built and in place to achieve the city’s long-term climate action goals. Both of these efforts should provide real benefits to the city and its electric customers by increasing the access to low-cost, cleaner energy to serve the city’s energy needs.”
Although New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell had previously written to MISO to affirm support for regional transmission projects as well, this is the first statement of support from a regulator in the MISO South region.
“Louisiana has among the highest solar potential in MISO, and we are excited to site our projects here,” said David Mindham of EDP Renewables North America. “This will bring jobs and additional property tax revenues to the state. The key to bringing these resources online is a resilient transmission system that can only be achieved with work like the MISO LRTP.”
Logan A. Burke of Alliance for Affordable Energy echoed these sentiments: “Leadership in MISO South that is vocal about the need for transmission planning and expansion is vital to securing an energy future that is ready to mitigate the worst impacts of climate change and adapt to the realities we are already experiencing. Regulators and other elected officials must take clear positions like this in favor of long-range transmission planning and other infrastructure. We hope other leaders in the region take this cue from New Orleans.”
“The Gulf South has had more than its fair share of extreme weather events, power outages, and resulting high electric bills. We need a more resilient transmission system to protect our communities for today, while planning for a clean energy future,”
The need for modernization, and for increasing the resilience of MISO’s transmission systems, have become acute, as highlighted in the grid operator’s regional transmission plan roadmap. As detailed by Gulf States Renewable Energy Industry Association’s Stephen Wright, constraints in the regional grid hurt reliability during the Polar Vortex and have thwarted development of low-cost solar and wind energy projects that can’t interconnect because regional system planning and upgrading have lagged.