Feds Considering Transmission and Interconnection Overhaul

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANOPR) on reforms to transmission and interconnection rules for energy projects.

According to FERC, the ANOPR, “Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection,” recognizes that the changing resource mix will create new demands for expansion of the transmission system and questions whether the existing approach to transmission planning, cost allocation and interconnection is consistent with the requirements of the Federal Power Act.

“As the generation fleet shifts at an unprecedented rate from resources located closer to population centers towards resources located far from load centers, we must evaluate whether our transmission planning and cost allocation and generator interconnection processes require a more innovative and anticipatory approach,” says FERC’s chairman, Rich Glick. “A piecemeal approach to expanding the transmission system is not going to get the job done. We must take steps today to build the transmission that tomorrow’s new generation resources will require.”

FERC says this decision comes as the nation “transitions to a cleaner energy future” – a move applauded by both the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and American Clean Power Association (ACP).

According to SEIA, this ANOPR represents the first time in a decade that FERC has “started to address transmission reform.”

“We need to quickly ramp up solar and storage deployment to address climate change and generate new economic opportunities, but the interconnection rules today allow utilities to put clean energy projects to the side and leave them in the interconnection queue for years,” comments Gizelle Wray, SEIA’s director of regulatory affairs and counsel. “We cannot have projects in a perpetual waiting room when we need to deploy hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy over the next 10 years.”

Heather Zichal, CEO of ACP, applauds FERC for launching this “long-needed conversation on comprehensive transmission reforms.”

“Reforms to FERC’s rules for transmission planning, cost allocation and interconnection hold the promise of unlocking investments that will spur the development of additional high-priority, high-voltage transmission lines that will help move cheaper and cleaner electricity to where it is needed,” Zichal continues. “This will help keep pace with the administration’s targets to decarbonize the energy sector and create thousands of jobs needed to build this infrastructure. ACP and our members look forward to working with FERC to ensure that our nation’s transmission system is modernized to keep pace with our clean energy future.”

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