Home Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalizes rule to plan for future energy needs

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalizes rule to plan for future energy needs

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Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized Order No. 1920 to ensure a reliable grid and require the nation’s transmission providers to plan for the future.

Specific requirements are necessary, according to the rule, to address how transmission providers must conduct long-term planning for regional transmission facilities and determine how to pay. FERC’s final rule comes from more than 15,000 pages of comments by nearly 200 stakeholders representing all sectors of the electric power industry; environmental, consumer and other advocacy groups; and state and other government entities.

The major elements of the rule are:

  • Requirement to conduct and periodically update long-term transmission planning to anticipate future needs.
  • Requirement to consider a broad set of benefits when planning new facilities.
  • Requirement to identify opportunities to modify in-kind replacement of existing transmission facilities to increase their transfer capability, known as “right-sizing.”
  • Customers pay only for projects from which they benefit.
  • Expands states’ pivotal role throughout the process of planning, selecting and determining how to pay for transmission facilities.

The Co-Chairs of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition (SEEC) Clean Energy Deployment Task Force, Reps. Sean Casten of Illinois and Mike Levin of California, released the following statement after the FERC finalized “Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation” rule.

“As countless studies, reports, and models have shown at this point, there is no transition without transmission. Today’s action by FERC is a vital step in achieving our goal of a fully clean energy economy that can be enjoyed by all Americans.”

Casten and Levin said the rule takes a step toward ensuring meaningful planning for the nation’s grid and for the costs of necessary transmission buildout.

“Americans today are already bearing the costs of an improperly planned grid; transmission planners have thus far not adequately accounted for the new forms of cheap, clean energy that are being deployed on the grid at an accelerating pace. A reliable, affordable, and clean grid is only achievable with proper, comprehensive, and forward-looking grid planning.”

The co-chairs cautioned that much work still remains.

“With today’s announcement to cover regional planning, FERC, as well as we in Congress, must now turn our attention to the same sort of planning and cost barriers that are holding back the buildout of interregional transmission. Our bill, the Clean Electricity and Transmission Acceleration (CETA) Act, includes a long list of policy reforms to facilitate the buildout of the high-capacity interregional transmission we need to deploy clean energy at the pace and scale necessary to meet our climate goals. We hope today’s action by FERC will spur Congress to finally tackle the remaining transmission policy challenges that are in front of us.”

Casten and Levin introduced the Clean Electricity and Transmission Acceleration (CETA) Act in December 2023 to serve as a consensus House Democrat vision to address the primary permitting and transmission issues holding back the American clean energy transition. The bill is endorsed by the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, the Congressional Progressive Caucus, and the New Democrat Coalition. Reps. Casten and Levin co-lead the bill with 79 of their House Democratic colleagues as cosponsors.

CETA will bring our electric grid into the 21st Century to meet increasing energy demand from economy-wide electrification and data centers. The bill will accelerate the responsible build out of renewable energy on public lands and waters to meet our clean energy and climate goals. And CETA will center early and effective community engagement to ensure that projects have buy in from impacted communities to ensure their success.

CETA would:

– Amend the Federal Power Act to direct the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue new rules on improving interregional planning, siting, and deployment of transmission.

– Provide a 30 percent transmission investment tax credit.

– Incentivize development of renewable energy on priority areas within our public lands.

– Reform the Outer Continental Shelf Lands to encourage offshore wind deployment.

– Expand meaningful consultation with disadvantaged groups and communities in the permitting process.

The SEEC is a coalition of 98 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, founded in January 2009, to be a focused, active and effective coalition for advancing policies that address climate change, promote clean energy innovation and domestic manufacturing, develop renewable energy resources, create family-sustaining clean jobs, protect our nation’s air, water and natural environment, and promote environmental justice.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.