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Transmission Planning for a High Renewable Energy Future: Lessons from the Texas Competitive Renewable Energy Zones Process

6 September 2017

The Clean Energy Solutions Center, in partnership with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), hosted this webinar on Transmission Planning for A High Renewable Energy Future: Lessons from the Texas Competitive Renewable Energy Zones Process. This webinar is part of the toolkit, a USAID and NREL collaboration designed to support countries in integrating renewable energy into the power system.

In 2005, the Texas power system developed a new approach to transmission system planning based on the designation of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ). Designed to direct transmission expansion to the state’s most productive wind energy resources, the implementation of CREZ has helped to enable the addition of more than 18 gigawatts of wind energy generation capacity to Texas’s power system while overcoming technical issues such as curtailment and transmission congestion. This novel approach provides a model for integrating the transmission and renewable energy generation planning processes.

The webinar provided an overview of the CREZ process, including the regulatory, procedural and technical considerations that were critical to its successful implementation in Texas. The webinar also introduced a Renewable Energy Zones “Toolkit” developed through a USAID and NREL partnership and intended to guide other power systems in adapting elements of the CREZ approach to their own power system planning processes.

The webinar was presented by Jeff Billo from ERCOT and Nathan Lee from NREL and was followed by an interactive question and answer session with the audience.


Mr. Jeff Billo is the Senior Manager of Transmission Planning at ERCOT. In this role he oversees the near-term and long-term transmission planning efforts at ERCOT, including both steady-state and stability analyses. He actively participates on the ERCOT Reliability and Operations Subcommittee, Regional Planning Group, Planning Working Group, and Planning Geomagnetic Disturbance Task Force. Jeff has been at ERCOT for thirteen years during which time he has supervised over 300 generation interconnection projects and was one of the principal planners for the CREZ project. He was also a member of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) Protection and Control (PRC-025) Generator Relay Loadability Standard Drafting Team and currently serves on the NERC Planning Committee. He has coauthored several IEEE papers on the topics of transmission planning and wind generation. Jeff holds an MS in Electrical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin in Austin, Texas and a BS in Mechanical Engineering from LeTourneau University in Longview, Texas.

Nathan Lee, Ph.D., is a Postdoctoral Researcher with the Integrated Decision Support group at NREL. Nathan’s research and work concentration is in energy system and power system planning with a focus on generation and transmission systems. He is interested in applying research internationally to support energy strategy formation in developing economies. Nathan’s doctoral research focused on developing a multi-criteria decision assessment methodology for national energy planning activities in developing countries, focusing on energy access, costs, and greenhouse gas emissions. The Economic Community of West African States, with an emphasis on Ghana, was used as a representative area of study for this work. Nathan received his Ph.D. and Diploma of Advanced Studies (M.S. equivalent) in Sustainable Energy Systems, Faculty of Engineering of the University of Porto, Portugal.