Pam Kasey over at Grounded did a post last week about legislation being introduced in WV to force WV power companies to buy power from industrial generators at prices that would support new investment in combined heat and power systems.
If the Legislature were serious about building reliability into WV’s electrical system, and encouraging the use of state resources, and putting WV on the cutting edge of new technology, this legislation could be expanded to include new, micro scale combined cycle gas electrical generators across the state, tied into local microgrids. There is nothing fancy about reliability. You just need to put generation closer to load. It doesn’t matter what kind of generation it is, as long as it doesn’t create deadly pollution and it is small in scale.
WV is producing abundant quantities of low priced natural gas right now. WV also has an electrical reliability crisis. Combined cycle natural gas generating plants can be scaled down, with no loss of efficiencies, to units that would fit in a tractor trailer. If independent developers could build these plants across WV, that alone would increase the reliability and resilience of WV’s electric distribution system.
If these new plants were combined with expanded solar and local wind development, the result would be a robust hybrid system that could withstand significant weather and grid disruptions, at least in the areas where they were located.
The only thing developers need is the ability to sell power to the two Ohio-based energy conglomerates that run WV’s electrical system, at a price that would support financing the new development.
Just think how much of this program could have been funded by the money AEP and FirstEnergy will collect from us for the PSC’s new tree trimming plan. And don’t forget that both AEP and FirstEnergy are planning to dump hundreds of millions of dollars of new rate increases on us to unload their obsolete coal plants on WV rate payers.
We need to move in new directions. Opening up the WV grid to innovation and independent power generators will go a long way to resolving WV’s electrical reliability problems.