Reactive Power Compensation for Renewable Energy Facilities: Opportunity Amidst Change
By: Ruta Skučas, Maria Faconti, Kimberly Frank
Originally published in the Oil, Gas & Energy Resources Law Section Report – Volume 47, Number 1 / January 2023.
Reactive power provides synchronous and non-synchronous generators, as well as other forms of non-generation resources capable of providing reactive power, with a potential additional revenue stream. The provision of voltage support to the grid is an ancillary service, compensated in various ways in the various wholesale electricity markets. Renewable developers should familiarize themselves with the opportunities provided by reactive power compensation, even as some of the compensation models may be shifting.
In 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) began allowing wind and solar facilities to offer reactive power as an ancillary service into wholesale electricity markets. Over the past few years, FERC and the independent system operators (“ISOs”) and regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”) began to revisit reactive power compensation models and, as a result, there has been a greater focus on reactive power issues in 2022. This article reviews the current status of reactive power compensation in various U.S. regions, as well as possible future changes.