In October, more than 230 state legislators from 43 states submitted a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to finalize and strengthen its regional transmission planning rule. Their letter noted that “Expanding transmission is critical for the reliability, affordability, and equity of the power grid,” and “The adoption of renewable energy, led by strong policies in the states, has allowed the grid to withstand threats from drought, floods, storms, and extreme heat. However, to ensure this continued resilience, we must accelerate transmission buildout across the country.”
They requested that the planning rule should require four key features:
· The multiple benefits relevant in the Federal Power Act need to be incorporated. Putting benefits into silos and ignoring many of them has contributed to the lack of transmission, causing congestion and interconnection queue logjams.
· A mechanism to resolve disagreements between states on cost allocation. We appreciate the role of states in the proposal and also recognize cost allocation disagreements can be a barrier.
· Plan for the future load and resource mix. Our constituents will be left vulnerable if planners continue to ignore all of the available projections and information about a changing resource mix. Growing load from national efforts to bring manufacturing back to the US and plans to electrify transportation and other sectors also needs to be incorporated to create a realistic picture of future needs.
· Incorporation of advanced transmission technologies. High-performance conductors, dynamic line ratings, topology optimization, and power flow control are all examples of ways to deliver more power over existing rights of way and transmission assets. Consumers and those impacted by new rights of way deserve to know that maximum use of existing assets is being pursued before new rights of way and expensive lines are planned.
FERC Chairman Willie Phillips recently responded in a letter saying, “I also agree that advanced transmission technologies should be part of any eventual Commission action, as they often provide customers with the best bang for the buck when it comes to planning the transmission system.”