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US reforms electric transmission planning

The changes could significant create opportunities for renewable projects

By Renewable Energy Focus Staff

The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has reformed electric transmission planning and cost allocation requirements for public utility transmission providers.

Order 1000 could create opportunities for grid-scale renewable projects, smaller scale distributed generation and energy efficiency investments.

The rule establishes three requirements for transmission planning. Firstly, each public utility transmission provider must participate in a regional transmission planning process that satisfies the transmission planning principles of Order 890 and produces a regional transmission plan.

Secondly, local and regional transmission planning processes must consider transmission needs driven by public policy requirements established by state or federal laws or regulations. Each public utility transmission provider must establish procedures to identify transmission needs driven by public policy requirements and evaluate proposed solutions to those transmission needs.

Thirdly, public utility transmission providers in each pair of neighbouring transmission planning regions must coordinate to determine if there are more efficient or cost-effective solutions to their mutual transmission needs.

This will be accomplished through significant changes in the way interstate electric transmission companies plan to meet their system needs and the way in which they allocate costs to their customers.

According to the World Alliance for Decentralized Energy, the order will lead to a flurry of industry activity to implement its requirements. Every transmission utility will need to participate in a regional transmission planning process and submit a filing to show how it is in compliance with the requirements of the Order within one year of the effective date, with interregional compliance filings due within 18 months.

Jon Wellinghoff, FERC Chairman, says: "Of the total miles of additional bulk power transmission, 50% is needed for reliability. An additional 27% will be needed to integrate variable and renewable generation across North America. The remainder is for integration of hydro, fossil-fuelled and nuclear generation and to reduce congestion, which can lower the delivered costs of power to consumers. As the Final Rule notes, the existing transmission system was not built to accommodate this shifting generation fleet.”

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