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Canary Media: The US needs to build a bigger, stronger grid. FERC has a plan for that

Posted by Jeff St. John on Apr 25, 2022

Canary Media profiled FERC's transmission policy, quoting AEE's Jeff Dennis on how modern infrastructure can better capture the benefits of clean energy. Read snippets below and the full story here.

Over the past nine months, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been working on a major reform to U.S. transmission-grid policy, one that clean-energy advocates say could determine whether or not the country will be able to build the vast amount of solar and wind power needed to combat climate change.

On Thursday, FERC approved the first fruits of that process — a proposal to require transmission providers to develop new planning processes and draw up 20-year plans for building large-scale regional transmission and sharing the costs. The aim is to build a grid robust enough to handle a rapidly changing energy mix over decades to come...

Expanded transmission could also yield more cost-effective and reliable electricity supplies, as illustrated in the following map from another 2021 report from the Brattle Group. Sharing power across regions allows renewable resources to be transferred from regions where they are most plentiful to other regions where they can replace higher-cost electricity. Regional power sharing also reduces the risk of weather events curtailing wind and solar supplies or driving spikes in demand for heating or cooling in one particular region...

These kinds of benefits aren’t captured in planning processes that only look a few years into the future, however, said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel for the Advanced Energy Economy trade group. 

“Long-term transmission planning is what’s required to get ahead of where the resource mix is going,” he said. ​“And it’s not a mystery…where that resource mix is going.”...

What MISO MVP did well — and what MISO’s most recent process is doing well — is capturing the needs of states upfront,” said Dennis of Advanced Energy Economy. States see they need transmission to meet their reliability goals, to reduce costs for consumers, to meet their own clean energy goals, and for utilities to meet their own carbon-reduction goals.” 

That led to states and utilities saying, we’re willing to pay our share of the costs of a portfolio that provides our share of benefits,” he said — and that, in turn, resulted in portfolios that created net benefits for everyone.” 

Dennis highlighted that the current national backlog of clean energy projects unable to interconnect to the grid is due to a lack of this kind of forward-thinking planning over the past decade or so. If FERC’s new NOPR can lead to these kinds of processes being replicated across the nation,” that would go a long way toward ensuring we don’t end up in this backlog situation again.” 

Read the full story here.

Topics: Wholesale Markets, AEE In The News, Jeff Dennis