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FERC to explore options on updates to transmission and interconnection rules

Written by: Leonard Parker | Solar News | 16th July

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking inviting the public to comment on potential reforms to improve transmission planning and cost allocation and generator interconnection processes as the nation transitions to a cleaner energy future.

“As the generation fleet shifts at an unprecedented rate from resources located closer to population centers toward 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,” FERC Chairman Rich Glick said. “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.”

The Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, “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. It seeks comment on a more forward-looking approach to how we build and allocate the cost of transmission infrastructure in this country.

“Today’s action is a critical first step in ensuring that FERC is thinking innovatively and actually anticipating transmission that will meet the needs of new generation as our nation continues to aggressively transition to a clean energy future,” Chairman Glick said. “This is the Commission’s first effort at major transmission reform in a decade and I look forward to moving as expeditiously as possible to advance these conversations.”

The Commission is seeking public comment on potential reforms in three specific areas: reforms for longer-term regional transmission planning and cost-allocation processes that take into account anticipated future generation, rethinking 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.

Gizelle Wray, director of regulatory affairs and counsel for SEIA, commented: “FERC’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking today on transmission, cost allocation, and interconnection is an encouraging start and could help us overcome utility-imposed market challenges that have hampered clean energy development across the United States.

“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. 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,” she continued.

Comments, identified by Docket No. RM21-17, are due 75 days after publication in the Federal Register. Reply comments are due 105 days after publication in the Federal Register.

News item from FERC