Following various public comment and expressions of concern, Council requested a “report on the electric capacity and load serving reliability of the Perche Creek substation” which it received at its meeting on October 7, 2019. The report does not focus on the specific loads in the area, although it notes those are being studied. The report does note that
“There is some concern that recent load patterns may not be representative of a ‘worst-case’ for the City. The City has not experienced extended temperatures of 105 degrees or greater since it set its all-time peak in the summer of 2011.”
Even though the report focuses on potential loss of only one transformer and does not address a complete outage at the substation, it does reference its “Load Shed Plan” for certain contingencies. Under that plan “[r]esidential customers are targeted to be shed first while critical services such as hospitals, fire stations and the water and wastewater treatment plants are shed last.”
At least two citizens with extensive experience in the field have submitted responses to the Council pointing out issues ignored in the report. You can review those responses here (first response) and here (second response).
In other developments worth noting, the Integrated Electric Resource and Master Plan Task Force, which was appointed by the Council, issued an RFP requesting, as part of the scope of work, a review of the existing standards of reliability. This tracks the concern we noted in an earlier post that the City might look to justify the deferral of needed investment in its transmission infrastructure by simply changing the methodology traditionally used to ensure reliability. In July of this year the Council also approved a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) which includes the following recommendations: (i) “moving towards 100% renewable electricity generation”, (ii) elimination of the current limits on rate increases caused by the purchase of more expensive renewable sources, and (iii) using storage batteries and community microgrids to support grid resilience and promote reliability (see pp. 48-49). The plan did not include any analysis of the costs or effects of these recommendations. The first two of these recommendations were among the CAAP priorities that were also reviewed by the Council on October 7, 2019.
So where are we going with our electric service? Will we have an true open discussion of the trade-offs between cost, reliability, and available options or will some options like the transmission line simply remain off the table? What is our risk tolerance? And will we have a full accounting of the costs associated with the Council’s hasty decision to “pause” the transmission line in 2016, including an accounting of costs associated with opportunities lost when a project that was approved by the voters, on-time, and on-budget, was simply set aside.