FERC should loosen incumbent transmission owners’ grip on planning
Transmission planning needs major reforms, including loosening the grip incumbent transmission owners have on the process, a panel of experts said Thursday during a roundtable hosted by the R Street Institute, a think tank.
Transmission reform — perhaps the top priority at FERC — may be the most important national energy policy issue, according to Devin Hartman, R Street director of energy and environmental policy.
“Transmission policies are really at the intersection of economic development, energy innovation and the clean energy transition, and right now there’s pervasive inadequacies in existing transmission policy,” Hartman said. “That’s causing a variety of issues, everything from billions in avoidable cost increases to leaving reliability risks exposed, stifling innovation and suppressing clean energy access.”
The surge in interest in transmission issues has made transmission “cool again,” according to FERC Commissioner Allison Clements.
“There is a national recognition, a regional recognition, a local recognition that we’re at a moment where we need significant investment in the transmission system,” Clements said.
According to Clements, tackling transmission issues isn’t a FERC-only effort.
“All parts of government and industry and stakeholders need to have buy-in that we have a credible process by which transmission gets developed, as well as a credible role for states to weigh in on what transition gets developed, all the way down to individual communities and landowners who are going to have to host a lot of this transmission investment,” Clements said.
The transmission system — the high-voltage power lines and facilities that move much electricity from where it is made to the distribution systems that deliver it to where it is used — forms the backbone of the power grid.