Diverse Transmission Stakeholders File Joint Reply Comments with FERC on Modernizing and Expanding the Electricity Grid

WASHINGTON, D.C. (August 26, 2019)—18 organizations, including Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, filed joint reply comments with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today in the Commission’s Electric Transmission Incentives Policy docket.

Advanced Energy Economy, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Wind Energy Association, Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, Center for Renewables Integration, Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, CTC Global Corporation, Enel Green Power North America, Enel X North America, Inc., ITC Holdings Corp., Natural Resources Defense Council, National Electrical Manufacturers Association, NW Energy Coalition, R Street Institute, Sustainable FERC Project, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the WATT Coalition make up the “Grid Advancement Coalition.”

The comments indicate the breadth and depth of support for a shift in Commission policies to increase investment in the transmission grid, which would unlock and allow electricity consumers to share in significant energy savings and other benefits. Specifically, the comments call for the Commission to adopt policies which would improve the operational efficiency of the grid and expand it to access low-cost remote resources, such as wind and solar energy.

“It is rare to see this breadth of support for grid expansion and modernization from organizations representing multi-state utilities that develop, own, and operate transmission, transmission equipment manufacturers, renewable energy companies, advanced energy technology developers, conservative and environmental non-profit public interest organizations, and major energy-consuming companies,” said John Jimison, Executive Director of ACEG.

The comments recommend the Commission replace its current risks and challenges transmission incentives criteria with consumer benefits, including a “shared savings” approach for many operational efficiency improvements. The comments also urge the Commission to redesign inter-regional planning for transmission—the key to accessing inexpensive remote energy resources—by requiring regions to plan together, count all the benefits of transmission, and to streamline the approval process for interregional transmission projects.

“The Commission can help unlock some of the cleanest and lowest cost energy for the nation’s electricity customers by reforming how interregional transmission incentives are structured and planning is done,” said Carl Zichella, Director of Western Transmission for NRDC and ACEG Board Member.

Additionally, the comments encourage the Commission to adopt policies to encourage implementation of low-cost, high-benefit new transmission technologies and other methods which improve the operational efficiency the existing transmission system.

“Incentives to optimize the capacity of the grid as well as the management and control of energy on the grid would deliver substantial benefits to consumers,” said Rob Gramlich, Executive Director of the WATT Coalition and ACEG Board Member.

Lastly, the joint reply comments urged the Commission to issue policy statements by the end of 2019 stating its determination to address these three key issues which will unlock the consumer benefits a modernized and expanded grid can provide.

Other organizations in the Grid Advancement Coalition voiced their support:

“ACORE is pleased to join diverse stakeholders in proposing common sense transmission incentive reform. With a regulatory framework that rewards consumer benefits, FERC can drive grid modernization in a way that supports improved reliability and resilience as well as deployment of low-cost, clean renewable energy.” – Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy

“It makes sense to target incentives to the efficient operation of transmission assets that are already deployed, and not just to new investments in the grid. R Street is pleased to join these organizations in highlighting an approach which would begin that process.” – Travis Kavulla, Director of Energy at R Street Institute

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