In December 2022, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) published a report on the Great Lakes Wind (GLW) energy feasibility based on a study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), Advisian Worley Group, Brattle Group and Pterra Consulting.  This study (link to the full report) was intended to complement the options for renewable resources such as land-based wind, solar, hydro and offshore wind that would help meet New York’s renewable energy portfolio and decarbonization goals under the New York State Climate Act.

New York State is bounded by two of the Great Lakes, Lake Erie to the west and Lake Ontario to the north. The potential for developing fixed and floating wind turbines on the lakes using both existing and emerging technologies was the focus of the feasibility study. The study examined myriad issues, including environmental, maritime, economic, and social implications of wind energy areas in these bodies of freshwater and the potential contributions of offshore GLW projects.

Pterra’s role in the study (link to interconnection report) was to conduct a feasibility assessment for potential interconnections of GLW generation with the New York Bulk Power System (NYBPS). To perform the assessment, Pterra developed power flow models to represent the NYBPS in 2030 with an assumed renewable generation buildout.

To provide a measure of interconnection capacity, the capacity headroom definition and calculation method described in recent New York State Public Service Commission orders were selected. Potential points of interconnection (POIs) on the existing NYBPS substations located within 20 miles of either the Lake Erie or Lake Ontario shoreline were initially selected for analysis. These were filtered down to a few representative POIs for more detailed analysis. (Headroom represents the potential capability for GLW to interconnect; however, it also represents the capacity that is available to any other generation resource that may want to interconnect at the same POI. The nature of the NYISO market for any new generation is competitive and GLW is expected to compete with other resource development modeling analyses to utilize the available headroom.)

Lake Erie abuts the New York counties of Erie in the north and Chautauqua in the south. For Lake Erie GLW, the available POIs showed combined capacity headroom of 270 megawatts (MW) without transmission upgrades. Applying a set of simple transmission upgrades costing some $68.8 million can increase the Lake Erie total headroom capacity by 60 MW to 330 MW.

New York State has a longer shoreline along Lake Ontario compared to Lake Erie. Several New York State counties border the lake, including Niagara, Orleans, Monroe, Wayne, Cayuga, Oswego and Jefferson. For Lake Ontario GLW, several POIs in Monroe and Oswego counties showed solo headroom capacity in the range of 850 to 1100 MW without the need for transmission upgrades. At most, there is a total headroom capacity of up to 1140 MW for the Lake Ontario POIs. The total headroom capacity may be increased by 140 MW by implementing simple upgrades costing some $236.6m. In Jefferson County, the studied POIs showed no solo headroom capacity. Simple transmission upgrades costing at least $164.5 million may open about 50 MW of headroom capacity.

Pterra’s interconnection assessment found that there is some headroom capacity on the NYBPS for which GLW can compete for the delivery of energy to the grid. In order to access the POIs with headroom, other reliability issues relating to transient voltage, stability, short circuit, deliverability, transfer capability and higher-level contingencies would also need to be considered.