Summer 2021 Fellow: Bella Meyn, ‘23 (Public Policy)

This fellowship is part of a partnership between Stanford in Government, the Precourt Institute for Energy, and the Bill Lane Center for the American West. If you are accepted as the fellow for this office, you will be required to complete a one-unit course on energy in California taught by Professors Bruce Cain and Sally Benson. 

Program requirement:

Take a one-unit workshop spring course, ‘Energy Policy in California and the West’ taught by Bruce Cain and Sally Benson that will provide an in-depth analysis of the role of California state agencies, the Western Interstate Energy Board, and the Western Electricity Coordinating Council in driving energy policy development, technology innovation, and market structures. Course number is CEE 263G / POLISCI 73 / PUBLPOL 73 / ENERGY 73.

Schedule: Wednesdays from 10:00 am – 11:00 am (Remote: Synchronous). (Please note: You can only enroll in the course after getting approved for the fellowship and receiving a permission number.) Please refer to the Shultz Energy Fellowships website for the most up-to-date information about the course.

Office description: 

The Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB) is an organization of eleven western states and two western Canadian provinces. The governor of each state and the premier of each province appoint a member to the Board. WIEB’s purpose is to “provide the instruments and framework for cooperative state efforts to enhance the economy of the West and contribute to the well-being of the region’s people.”  WIEB works to achieve this purpose through cooperative efforts among member states and provinces and the federal government.  WIEB’s office is in downtown Denver, Colorado.

For more information on WIEB, please visit WIEB’s homepage:  http://westernenergyboard.org/wieb/

Mentors: 

Maury Galbraith, Executive Director of WIEB, will act as the principal mentor for this project.  Mr. Galbraith provides overall strategic direction to the Western Interstate Energy Board (WIEB), enabling the organization to effectively identify and address important energy issues in the West and to support cooperative western state/provincial efforts in the energy field.

Holly Taylor, Director of State, Federal, and International Affairs, will also act as a mentor for this project.  Ms. Taylor is responsible for managing communications with the Western Interstate Energy Board’s state, federal, and international partners.

Eric Baran, Program Manager – Electric System Reliability, will also act as a mentor for this project.  Mr. Baran manages and provides staff support to the Western Interconnection Regional Advisory Body (WIRAB).  WIRAB provides advice to the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC), the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) regarding the reliability of the bulk power system in the Western Interconnection.

2021 Fellowship Project – “Transmission Line Ratings in the West”    

The goal of this project is to explore the barriers to implementing dynamic line ratings in the Western Interconnection.  The students selected for this project will lead the WIEB effort to identify the technical, economic, and policy barriers to implementing dynamic line ratings in the West.

Transmission line ratings represent the maximum transfer capability of each transmission line.  These ratings, and the rules by which they are established, are practices that directly affect the cost of wholesale electricity, capacity, and ancillary services.  Inaccurate transmission line ratings may result in increased costs to electricity consumers and increased risk to the reliability of the bulk electric system.

Transmission line ratings are often based on seasonal or static assumptions that do not accurately reflect the near-term transfer capability of the system.  If a transmission line rating based on static assumptions is less than its actual transfer capability based on near-term system conditions, then flows may be unnecessarily restricted and costs to electricity consumers unreasonably high.  Alternatively, if a transmission line rating based on static assumptions is greater than its actual transfer capability based on near-term system conditions, then allowable flows may be overstated creating potential reliability and safety problems.   In either case, implementing dynamic transmission line ratings that more accurately represent the transfer capability of the transmission system could potentially result in significant economic and reliability benefits.

The students will act as lead researchers on the project, with guidance from WIEB advisors, and will review technical and policy research related to the implementation of dynamic line ratings.  The students will interview industry subject matter experts to identify potential barriers to implementation of dynamic line ratings.  The students will consider and propose incremental first steps that can be taken to advance the use of dynamic line ratings in the West.  Finally, the students will present the findings and conclusions of their research to state energy officials and utility regulators in West.

This project will provide students with substantive policy work experience, clear direction and guidance on how to complete the work, and the autonomy to be creative and to conduct independent research.  The students will create a written issue brief documenting the technical, economic, and policy barriers to implementing dynamic line ratings in the Western Interconnection. The students will have the opportunity to present their work to WIEB Staff as well as state and provincial policymakers and regulators.  At the conclusion of a successful project, the students will feel that they are a part of the WIEB team and have made a significant contribution to enhancing regional electricity policy in the West.

Desired Skills and Knowledge   

The ideal student candidates will have the following skills and knowledge:

SKILLS:

  • Good research and analytic skills.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills.
  • Experience using Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.
  • Ability to work independently and as a member of a research team.

KNOWLEDGE:

  • Coursework in statistics or mathematics.
  • Coursework related to energy or environmental policy.
  • Interest in public policy, law, economics, engineering, or related fields.
  • Interest in working on electricity policy issues.
  • Interest in working with energy policy makers in the West.

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