Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) voted to issue an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) titled Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection. The ANOPR is FERC’s first step, under the leadership of Chairman Rich Glick, towards overhauling how electric transmission in this country get planned, built, and paid for in order to better accommodate the growth of renewable energy projects.
In general, the ANOPR seeks comments on three areas: regional transmission planning and cost allocation processes, identification of cost responsibility for regional transmission facilities and interconnection-related network upgrades, and enhanced transmission oversight over how new transmission facilities are identified and paid for. Particular areas of interest that the ANOPR requests comments on include:
In discussing the ANOPR at last Thursday’s open meeting, Chairman Glick noted that FERC hadn’t adopted a major electric transmission reform in over a decade and with 750 GW of generation in interconnection queues—93% of which are renewable projects—FERC needed to act to ensure that the U.S. transmission system could accommodate new generation resources. Commissioner Allison Clements similarly noted that the backlog of projects in interconnection queues were stifling competition and preventing low-cost wind, solar, and hybrid resources from coming online for the benefit of customers. Commissioners James Danly and Mark Christie supported asking the questions proposed in the ANOPR but cautioned against reforms that would increase rates, threaten reliability, or extend FERC beyond its jurisdiction. Many of these sentiments were echoed by the commissioners in their statements appended to the ANOPR.
Initial comments in response to the ANOPR are due 75 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register, with reply comments due 105 days after publication.