TRANSMISSION REGULATORS ARE THINKING BIG. A federal commission has delivered a 650-page blueprint for transmission planners that emphasizes regional coordination and gives public policy added weight in determinations for the expected build-out.
We've been discussing it here [in RenewablesBiz] for some time because the implications are pretty serious for widespread renewable energy integration - intentionally so. During the year-long consideration of the rules, questions have been raised about this federal commission's cost allocation segments that many deem unfair.
Final rule issued
On July 21, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order No. 1000, the Final Rule on Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation, amending the transmission planning and cost allocation requirements established in Order No. 890. In short, the main parts of the rule require providers to:
- participate in a regional transmission planning process and produce a regional transmission plan;
- describe how public policy requirements will be considered in local and regional transmission planning processes.
The law firm Troutman Sanders held a recent webinar on the order.
"As FERC indicates all throughout the rule, Order 1000 is all about process. It's going to be extensive," one commentator said. "Transmission providers must evaluate alternative transmission solutions that may be cost-effective. On that point FERC seems to be pushing the concept of larger regional projects instead of incremental upgrades."
In breaking new ground, FERC has moved beyond reliability to "public policy requirements" in the determination of need for transmission projects. That could mean adherence to any stature or regulation that impacts the electricity markets.