Advocates push for large-scale transmission upgrades to accommodate more solar power

SEIA filed comments this week in response to a July Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on transmission reforms and new interconnection rules. The ANOPR provides the opportunity to address various transmission, interconnection and cost allocation issues, paving the way for more equitable market access for solar and energy storage.

FERC announced the ANOPR. at in response to the country’s burgeoning transition to cleaner energy – conscious of the fact that large-scale solar projects are further away from the people they serve than traditional fossil fuel plants.

“As the manufacturing fleet is shifting from resources closer to population centers to resources far from load centers at an unprecedented rate, we need to evaluate whether our transmission planning and cost allocation and generator interconnection processes require a more innovative and anticipatory approach,” President of the FERC. Rich Glick said in a press release.

SEIA agreed that the country’s transmission system has not kept pace with the clean energy shift and welcomed the reforms.

“This ANOPR is a critical step forward that gives us an opportunity to think big about how we are breaking down barriers to clean energy and leveling the playing field for Independent Power Producers (IPPs),” said Gizelle Wray, director of regulation and advisor for SEIA, in a statement. “SEIA’s comments focus on several critical points, including an extension of the factors considered in transmission planning, such as grid-enhancing technologies and distributed energy resources, to maximize existing transmission. SEIA recommends eliminating participant funding so that IPPs do not pay for utilities that do not upgrade their system and consider the full range of benefits that clean energy provides in cost allocation, among other things. SEIA is also calling on federal energy regulations to extend the voice of IPPs that are not included in a regional transmission organization. FERC must act quickly and begin the formal regulatory process so that clean energy projects don’t sit still as demand bubbles up and the impacts of climate change rage. We look forward to working with the Commission in this process to drive historic and much-needed reforms across our network.”

More than two dozen organizations sent a letter to FERC commissioners expressing support for large-scale transmission. The signatories of the letter, most of whom are supporters of the Macro Grid Initiative Vision statement, including utilities, NGOs, think tanks, unions, state energy officials, national trade associations, agricultural and environmental organizations.

“We encourage moving towards rules that improve structures and regulations under Commission jurisdiction that allow for large-scale regional and inter-regional transmission expansion to ensure we have a resilient, clean, reliable and affordable electricity system,” they wrote. the signatories, citing “the fast-growing and widespread recognition of the importance of large-scale transmission in ensuring the country’s transmission system is able to support future needs.”

The letter identifies several ways electricity users benefit from transmission, such as improving reliability by mitigating threats such as Winter Storm Uri and facilitating the transition to clean energy to achieve decarbonization goals. The signatories also praised FERC for “establishing the Federal-State Joint Task Force on Transmission and for working with states in the regulatory process.”

“The diverse group of signatories to this joint statement understand that expanding and improving the national transmission network will bring jobs and economic development, a cleaner environment and lower costs for consumers. The Macro Grid Initiative applauds FERC for initiating the ANOPR process, which will hopefully bring us one step closer to the 21NS-century Macro Grid that we know is necessary to deliver the reliable, affordable and clean energy future Americans want and deserve,” added Barbara Tyran, director of the Macro Grid Initiative.

Responses to the ANOPR are expected in November, which may be followed by a notification of proposed regulations.

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