The REZ Process: Organizational Structure

The relationship between decision makers and stakeholders is important in the REZ process. While laws and institutional frameworks vary from one power system to another, a successful REZs effort depends on active stakeholder engagement and the flow of information between stakeholders and decision makers throughout the process. The authority to plan for and approve investment decisions rests with the decision makers. Examples of decision makers and stakeholders for the REZ Process are listed in the table below. Stakeholder involvement is critical to the REZ process. Although stakeholders do not make legally binding decisions, they have important interests in the electricity system and will be affected by those decisions. In many cases, stakeholders also have technical information and expertise that can enhance the decision.

Table. Example REZ process decision makers and stakeholders

Decision makersStakeholders
Energy ministry or agency officials Renewable energy project developers
Environment ministry and other relevant ministry officials Electric utilities
Regulators Environment, natural resource, and land-use authorities
Power system planners Economic and social development authorities
Transmission system operators Environment, wildlife, social , and other interest groups
Non-governmental organizations
Local residents and business owners

The figure below proposes an organizational structure for an effective, stakeholder-inclusive REZ process, as referenced throughout this document. This general organizational structure may require modifications when applied to a specific country or other contexts. This begins with the Lead Entity—the decision maker that launches and oversees the planning activity and ensures its completion. A technical advisory committee (TAC) empowered by the Lead Entity guides and reviews the work of the REZ process. The working groups (WGs) conduct the technical and analytical work of the REZ process and generally include both:

  • A zone identification and technical analysis WG (Zone WG)
  • A transmission and generation modeling WG (Transmission WG)

The Lead Entity has authority to approve new transmission and to convene stakeholders and other decision makers. The Lead Entity would also arbitrate any disagreements that cannot be settled within the TAC. The Lead Entity may be an energy ministry, an environment ministry, the regulatory authority, or other relevant authority. As an example, the Texas Legislature directed the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to take action in 2005 that paved the way for the Texas CREZ initiative (Hurlbut 2013).

The TAC guides and reviews specific REZ tasks and outputs. The committee may include representatives of the Lead Entity, the technical WGs, other government agencies, stakeholders, and organizations that can support the process such as transmission system operators. The Zone and Transmission WGs deliver their work products to the TAC for review and discussion. The TAC mediates any differing views within the WGs throughout the process.

The Zone WG conducts the step-by-step screening that results in a list of candidate REZs. The Zone WG’s membership includes organizations that can help assess the productive potential of renewable energy resources, and any significant constraint to renewable energy project development, at specific locations. Members can include renewable energy technology experts, meteorological experts, power system planners, land use planners, wildlife experts, civil society groups, and other stakeholders. The work might begin by defining initial study areas (see step 2), which the group then screens more rigorously into smaller candidate zones (see step 3). In the Texas CREZ initiative, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)—the system operator—conducted a wind resource potential study and identified areas with significant potential for generation (Lasher 2008).

The Transmission WG models options for connecting the candidate zones to the existing transmission network to deliver energy generated in candidate zones to demand. The Transmission WG performs the requisite transmission planning studies (such as operational and reliability analyses) and develops transmission expansion options (including cost estimates for the necessary transmission facilities). The group analyzes and compares the results of each option based on the amount of new renewable energy delivered, changes in the cost of production, total cost of transmission upgrades, and any other metrics of interest. The Transmission WG may consist of transmission system operators, energy research institutes, government agencies, and other stakeholders. Transmission WG discussions also include representatives of existing and planned generation installations to share generator characteristics and support modeling activities.


General REZ structure for REZ Process Organization page guidebook

Figure. General renewable energy zone process organizational structure

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