Interest in Additional Transmission Continues to Grow

Utilities have always been on board with the importance of the building of additional transmission, especially with the growing number, size, and strategic importance of renewables “farms” – solar farms and wind farms.

Other organizations have also expressed a desire for more transmission, and a recent interaction between two important organizations is showing that this desire is gaining traction.

The National Caucus of Environmental Legislators, which is composed of over 230 state legislators from 43 states, wrote a letter on October 4 to Willie Phillips, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), encouraging FERC to finalize and even strengthen its proposed regional transmission planning and cost allocation rule.

On November 16, Phillips responded to the letter, noting, among other things, “As a former state regulator, I particularly appreciate your interest in these matters and the important role that states play in shaping the electric generation mix and ensuring that consumers have access to reliable and affordable electricity. Let me assure you that this proceeding remains among my chief priorities, especially following the Commission’s issuance of its final rule on generator interconnection in July (Order No. 2023). That historic final rule on interconnection is the first of what I hope will be several important measures that the Commission takes to ensure that our electric grid is reliable, affordable, and sustainable.”

Phillips continued: “My goal is to ensure that we are efficiently planning and constructing much-

needed new transmission facilities. And so, I could not agree more on the importance of finalizing our proposed rule on regional transmission planning (RM21-17). A robust transmission network is the foundation for electric reliability, especially in the face of the extreme weather events we have experienced over the last several years, including Winter Storm Elliott.”

Phillips went on to note in the letter that more new transmission will enable the nation to access new, low-cost generating resources to help keep customers’ energy bills reasonable. “And, as your letter discusses, transmission can help integrate cleaner sources of generation into the resource mix, which are particularly beneficial to our most vulnerable communities,” he added,

He continued: “I also agree with the views expressed in your letter regarding the importance of

several specific components of any final rule. For example, I agree that it must address the multiple drivers of future transmission needs, including the evolving generation resource mix and customer base, as well as the broader set of benefits and beneficiaries of planned transmission facilities. I also agree that advanced transmission technologies should be part of any eventual Commission action, as they often provide customers with the best bang for the buck when it comes to planning the transmission system.”


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