Transmission planning needs to consider multiple forward-looking factors, such as the changing resource mix and customer demand, according to Willie Phillips, Federal Energy Regulatory commission acting chairman.
“A robust transmission network is the foundation for electric reliability, especially in the face of the extreme weather,” Phillips said in a Nov. 16 letter to the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators.
FERC’s proposed transmission planning and cost allocation rule is a “chief” priority, especially after the agency issued a final generator interconnection rule in July, Phillips said.
“That historic final rule on interconnection is the first of what I hope will be several important measures that the Commission takes to ensure that our electric grid is reliable, affordable, and sustainable,” Phillips said.
Phillips was responding to an October letter from the National Caucus of Environmental Legislators. More than 230 state lawmakers from 43 states urged FERC to finalize and strengthen its proposed regional transmission planning and cost allocation rule. Among other things, they said a final rule should require grid planners to consider multiple benefits from transmission and should include a mechanism to resolve cost allocation disputes between states.
Phillips said he agreed with the lawmakers on the importance of several components of any final rule.
“It must address the multiple drivers of future transmission needs, including the evolving generation resource mix and customer base, as well as the broader set of benefits and beneficiaries of planned transmission facilities,” he said.
Also, advanced transmission technologies should be part of a final rule, “as they often provide customers with the best bang for the buck when it comes to planning the transmission system,” Phillips said.
In a separate letter, FERC Commissioner Allison Clements said she agreed with the state lawmakers on several key elements that should be in a final rule, including a way to address cost allocation disagreements.
“Long-range planning that requires project selection to be based on a broad range of estimated benefits across plausible scenarios holds great potential to lower costs for consumers while enhancing grid reliability,” Clements said.
Maryland Delegate Lorig Charkoudian, a Democrat who led the effort to draft the NCEL letter, said she was encouraged by the responses from the commissioners.
“We must get market rules right to get the most out of our current transmission system through Grid Enhancing Technologies, and we also must streamline the process to build new transmission from clean energy to population centers,” Charkoudian said Monday in a statement. “And all of this must be done as efficiently and as affordably as possible to protect ratepayers.”