ISO-NE releases RFP for Boston area transmission upgrades
Update, March 31, 2020: Eight different developers submitted a total of 36 proposals as part of the first phase of this competitive solicitation. The ISO is currently reviewing these proposals to screen out those proposals that do not solve the identified needs, are not feasible, or are not competitive with the other proposals. This effort is currently anticipated to be completed by August 26, 2020. Those that meet the requirements will progress to the second step of the process, in which developers must provide much more detailed information so that the ISO can perform a thorough evaluation and comparison of each proposal. On March 19, ISO published a memo providing additional information related to the submitted proposals.
On December 20, ISO New England issued a request for proposal (RFP) to address transmission needs in the Boston area caused by the retirement of the Mystic Generating Station in the early-2020s. The issuance of the RFP marks a milestone for ISO New England as it is the first competitive transmission solicitation issued under the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Order 1000 framework for transmission development.
Brent Oberlin, the ISO’s Director of Transmission Planning, explains the significance of this project below.
What prompted this RFP?
During the lead-up to the 13th Forward Capacity Auction, Exelon Generation Company, LLC sought to retire the Mystic Generating Station, located just outside of Boston, in June 2022. Though the ISO retained two of the Mystic units under rules that permit retentions for fuel-security reasons, they are scheduled to retire as early as June 1, 2023.
Following the initial retirement request, ISO New England began studying whether the closure of the station, one of the largest power plants in New England and located in the region’s greatest demand area, would cause any transmission needs in the Boston area through 2028. The results of that study showed that upgrades to the transmission system will be needed to maintain reliability in the Boston area after the Mystic retirement.
Because the upgrades are not considered time-sensitive, meaning that the transmission is not needed for at least 3 years, the ISO is issuing this RFP under the Order 1000 framework.
What is Order 1000?
Order 1000 created a competitive selection process for transmission upgrades needed to address reliability needs, allowing for the possibility of more creative solutions.
How does the Order 1000 process work?
Once transmission needs are identified and deemed to not be time-sensitive, the ISO issues an RFP detailing the system needs that are to be addressed and a timeline for the work. Developers will submit their proposals to solve the identified needs, which will be reviewed by the ISO in a two-step process. During the first phase, developers provide limited information regarding their proposal, allowing the ISO to screen out those proposals that do not solve the identified needs, are not feasible, or are not competitive with the other proposals. During the second step, developers must provide much more detailed information so that the ISO can perform a thorough evaluation and comparison of each proposal.
In the second phase, the ISO selects the proposal that offers the best combination of electrical performance, cost, future system expandability, and feasibility to meet the need in the required timeframe.
Who can submit a proposal under this RFP?
This RFP is open to all developers who have met the qualification standards detailed in Section 4B of Attachment K to the ISO’s Open Access Transmission Tariff. The ISO has qualified 23 transmission developers, while one other is currently in the qualification process.
What happens next?
Prospective developers have until March 4, 2020 to submit their applications, which then kicks off the ISO’s review process. The ISO expects to make a final selection in the summer of 2021.