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September 01, 2020 1:29pm
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FERC changes could help state decarbonization efforts

FERC is proposing to make significant changes to the way the transmission system is planned and costs are allocated for new transmission projects.

By Warren Leon, Clean Energy States Alliance

A transition to a future low-carbon electricity system will require much more transmission to connect new solar and wind generation to markets. That future can only be achieved efficiently and cost-effectively with more coordinated advanced planning and greater involvement from states, including energy policy agencies of state government that develop and implement state clean energy policies.

On August 17th, CESA staff submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) on “Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection”

On a recent episode of the Factor This! podcast, Advanced Energy Economy managing director Jeff Dennis broke down what he called the “most aggressive” agenda by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in recent history. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts.

FERC is proposing to make significant changes to the way the transmission system is planned and costs are allocated for new transmission projects. FERC sees the proposed changes as essential to building out the transmission capacity required to efficiently bring online clean energy generation, especially utility-scale solar and wind.

Among other things, FERC is proposing to require transmission providers to conduct regional transmission planning on a longer-term basis and that states have a greater, more active role in regional transmission planning. This could make it easier for states to help advance transmission planning that supports the growing role of clean generation on regional electric grids.

CESA agrees that changes to the transmission planning process are essential to ensure the success of state decarbonization policies, especially state policies to achieve 100% clean power.  In the comments submitted to FERC, we commended the agency for the direction of the NOPR and urged FERC to:

  • Require a transmission planning protocol that can anticipate long-term changes in the power system that state policy demands, and promote improvements in a cost-efficient manner;
  • Support the work of states to achieve clean energy policies by addressing shortcomings in the governance of regional planning bodies;
  • Incorporate a broader set of social and economic benefits into the planning process, including the ability of electric transmission projects to address environmental injustices and rural poverty; and
  • Facilitate engagement by state officials in regional and inter-regional planning and cost allocation efforts.

See CESA’s full comments to FERC here.

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