Project

Tracking Transmission Reform

A transmission tower in front of an orange sky; a flock of birds flies past; a snippet of text from FERC's Building for the Future NOPR; the State Impact Center logo.

Hear from state attor­neys gen­er­al about why trans­mis­sion reform is a crit­i­cal aspect of cli­mate response and what’s at stake, learn about the broad reform needs in this space, and keep track of oppor­tu­ni­ties to engage in push­ing towards more equi­table trans­mis­sion policy.

AGs Explain What's at Stake

Mass­a­chu­setts Attor­ney Gen­er­al Mau­ra Healey

We have no time to waste in address­ing this cri­sis. [We need to start] build­ing new, equi­table, resilient, and effi­cient elec­tric trans­mis­sion on a big scale, and fast. … These changes need to be trans­par­ent, bold, and cen­ter the peo­ple most deeply impact­ed by the cli­mate crisis.” 

Con­necti­cut Attor­ney Gen­er­al William Tong

To reach our state and fed­er­al cli­mate and oth­er goals, we will need sub­stan­tial new trans­mis­sion infra­struc­ture. … Attor­neys gen­er­al have been active par­tic­i­pants before FERC, and we are work­ing now to make sure any new ener­gy infra­struc­ture is effi­cient, resilient, and affordable.”

Michi­gan Attor­ney Gen­er­al Dana Nessel

I can imag­ine few things that would be more trans­for­ma­tion­al and ben­e­fi­cial for the con­sumers of my state than reform­ing the way we trans­mit ener­gy. It’ll cre­ate jobs, improve pub­lic health, reduce costs, and give us the ener­gy reli­a­bil­i­ty we’ve been demand­ing for years.” 

Mary­land Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bri­an Frosh

FERC’s new focus on trans­mis­sion reform presents an oppor­tu­ni­ty for find­ing cre­ative ways to ame­lio­rate the impacts of our reliance on fos­sil fuel plants in [low-income and major­i­ty minor­i­ty] com­mu­ni­ties. … Pro­mot­ing clean ener­gy gen­er­al­ly will lessen the health effects of fos­sil fuel-based ener­gy sources.”

Transmission in Focus

In June 2022, the Fed­er­al Ener­gy Reg­u­la­to­ry Com­mis­sion (FERC) issued (1) a pro­posed rule to address inter­con­nec­tion pro­ce­dures; and (2) two pro­pos­als to address grid reli­a­bil­i­ty against extreme weather. 

In Improve­ments to Gen­er­a­tor Inter­con­nec­tion Pro­ce­dures and Agree­ments, FERC pro­pos­es reforms to address the delays and costs that new gen­er­a­tion and stor­age projects can face in attempt­ing to con­nect to the grid. Aspects of the pro­pos­al include: (1) changes to the study process and new readi­ness require­ments for cus­tomers; (2) dead­lines for pro­cess­ing inter­con­nec­tion stud­ies with asso­ci­at­ed penal­ties for fail­ing to meet dead­lines; (3) the incor­po­ra­tion of tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments; and (4) updat­ed mod­el­ing and per­for­mance requirements.

In Trans­mis­sion Sys­tem Plan­ning Per­for­mance Require­ments for Extreme Weath­er, FERC pro­pos­es to direct the North Amer­i­can Elec­tric Reli­a­bil­i­ty Cor­po­ra­tion (NERC) to devel­op mod­i­fi­ca­tions to reli­a­bil­i­ty stan­dards around trans­mis­sion plan­ning for extreme heat and cold weath­er. And in One-Time Reports on Extreme Weath­er Vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty Assess­ments, FERC pro­pos­es to direct trans­mis­sion providers to sub­mit a report on their approach to extreme weath­er vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty and risk mit­i­ga­tion. This is an infor­ma­tion gath­er­ing activ­i­ty and would not require new assessments.

In April 2022, FERC issued a notice of pro­posed rule­mak­ing, Build­ing for the Future Through Elec­tric Region­al Trans­mis­sion Plan­ning and Cost Allo­ca­tion and Gen­er­a­tor Inter­con­nec­tion. This pro­pos­al address­es sev­er­al pieces of the inquiry FERC launched in its ear­li­er advanced notice in this proceeding. 

The pro­pos­al includes:

  • For­ward-look­ing region­al trans­mis­sion plan­ning on a 20-year plan­ning hori­zon (at min­i­mum) and includ­ing account­ing for extreme weath­er events. 
  • More robust con­sid­er­a­tion of dynam­ic line rat­ings and advanced pow­er flow con­trol devices. 
  • A sig­nif­i­cant role for states in cost allo­ca­tion for trans­mis­sion facilities. 
  • Pro­hi­bi­tion of the con­struc­tion-work-in-progress incen­tive for facil­i­ties select­ed through long-term region­al trans­mis­sion planning. 
  • A fed­er­al right of first refusal for facil­i­ties select­ed in a region­al trans­mis­sion plan, as long as the incum­bent trans­mis­sion devel­op­er estab­lished joint own­er­ship with unaf­fil­i­at­ed, non­in­cum­bent developers. 
  • Enhanced trans­paren­cy require­ments for trans­mis­sion providers. 

Our col­leagues at the Insti­tute for Pol­i­cy Integri­ty at NYU Law pro­vide a sum­ma­ry of the pro­pos­al.

In July 2021
, FERC issued an advanced notice of pro­posed rule­mak­ing called Build­ing for the Future Through Elec­tric Region­al Trans­mis­sion Plan­ning and Cost Allo­ca­tion and Gen­er­a­tor Inter­con­nec­tion. FERC’s efforts in this area are like­ly to be key to facil­i­tat­ing the cost-effec­tive and effi­cient build­out of the trans­mis­sion sys­tem need­ed to enable a clean­er, afford­able ener­gy future. 

Cus­tomer demand, state and fed­er­al poli­cies, and cost com­pet­i­tive­ness have dri­ven the country’s pow­er gen­er­a­tion mix towards clean­er tech­nolo­gies. We are shift­ing from large resources sit­ed near pop­u­la­tion cen­ters to renew­ables, which are often locat­ed far from pop­u­la­tion cen­ters, based on sun or wind pat­terns. Cur­rent trans­mis­sion poli­cies have led to back­logs in adding new renew­able gen­er­a­tion to the grid. Seri­ous reform is need­ed to access these resources in a cost-effec­tive and effi­cient way. As FERC Chair Richard Glick and Com­mis­sion­er Alli­son Clements said in a state­ment: With the clean ener­gy tran­si­tion gain­ing steam, we can either con­tin­ue with the sta­tus quo, try­ing to meet the trans­mis­sion needs of the future by build­ing out the grid in a myopic, piece­meal fash­ion, or we can start holis­ti­cal­ly and proac­tive­ly plan­ning for those future trans­mis­sion needs.”

In its advanced notice of pro­posed rule­mak­ing, FERC asked for com­ment on poten­tial reforms in broad areas, includ­ing how costs of new trans­mis­sion and upgrades should be allo­cat­ed, whether the plan­ning process should take into account like­ly future gen­er­a­tion, and what kind of over­sight there should be. FERC’s news release and staff pre­sen­ta­tion that accom­pa­nied issuance of the advanced notice pro­vide addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion. This is the begin­ning of a longer process that will have fur­ther oppor­tu­ni­ties for stake­hold­er and pub­lic engagement. 

Impor­tant Dates

AG Work

Resources

From FERC & DOE

See Older Items

Trans­mis­sion Reform in the Media

Sum­ma­ry of FERC Inter­con­nec­tion NOPR | Trout­man Pep­per 6/27/22

See Older News Items

Cen­ter Insights

A transmission tower

The "Goldilocks" Approach to Transmission Cost Allocation

March 24, 2022 — Cleaning up the electricity grid means building more electricity transmission for clean energy sources. But large-scale transmission projects can be held up over the contentious issue of “cost allocation”...

Bats flying around a transmission tower

Tricks, Treats, and Transmission: Bringing Equity to Grid Planning

October 28, 2021 — The past year has shown how the climate emergency and severe weather test the transmission system. The current transmission system is failing these tests...

Webi­na­rs

Build­ing the Grid of the Future: A Dis­cus­sion of Trans­mis­sion Reform 

The State Impact Cen­ter host­ed webi­nar that gave an overview of FERC’s Build­ing for the Future” advanced notice of pro­posed rule­mak­ing and dis­cussed how the pro­ceed­ing relates to state clean ener­gy goals, cus­tomer costs, envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice, and more.

Ener­giz­ing Your FERC Practice 

New to FERC? The State Impact Cen­ter host­ed a webi­nar that gave an overview of the nuts and bolts of engag­ing in FERC pro­ceed­ings, high­light­ed FERC’s major sub­stan­tive areas of respon­si­bil­i­ty, and dis­cussed dif­fer­ent ways to advo­cate in front of the Commission.