wind turbine

Coalition Issues Reply Comments on FERC NOPR

The Energy Future Coalition (a partner of NCETI), joined by a number of renewable energy advocates, utility and transmission organizations, and environmental groups, submitted two sets of comments on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s proposed rule on transmission planning and cost allocation (Docket No. RM10-23-000). EFC noted that while investment in new transmission has been increasing, it is not enough investment to meet our energy and climate goals. In fact, there is currently a backlog of almost 300,000 megawatts of wind power projects (enough to satisfy approximately 20% of the United States’ electricity needs) that are on hold until additional transmission infrastructure is built to connect them to the power grid.

Connecting additional renewable energy to the power grid is not the only benefit of increasing transmission. New transmission lines would increase the reliability of the electrical grid, which could save Americans tens of billions of dollars annually in lost productivity due to power outages. New investment in transmission infrastructure would also ease grid congestion. Grid congestion increased energy bills for ratepayers in the mid-Atlantic by 6% in 2008, a total cost of $2.12 billion. New demand for power will only increase the financial burden of congested lines.

Because of the interconnected nature of the electric transmission grid, the benefits of increased reliability, decreased congestion, and increased access to remote renewable resources are shared by a broad range of end users, not just those who are located near new transmission lines. Because the benefits are shared, the costs related to new transmission lines should also be shared. That is not to say that everyone should pay for new transmission lines, only those who benefit from the new and improved infrastructure.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has a duty to make sure rates are just and reasonable. When it comes to paying for transmission lines, allocating costs without considering the significant reliability, economic, and other benefits of new transmission lines to neighboring utilities is neither just nor reasonable.

To read the full comments, click on the links below:

Joint Reply Comments of the American Electric Power Corporation, American Wind Energy Association, Energy Future Coalition, Iberdrola Renewables, ITC Holdings Corporation, LS Power Transmission LLC, Mesa Power Group LLC, Nextera Energy Incorporated, Solar Energy Industries Association, and Western Grid Group

Joint Reply Comments of Earthjustice, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defese Council, and Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future

NCETI Submits Comments on FERC Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation NOPR

Photo Courtesy of UN Photo Library, R. Kollar

In response to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR), the National Clean Energy Transmission Initiative (NCETI), together with the Energy Future Coalition and an alliance of renewable energy advocates, environmentalists, utilities, and transmission developers, proposed that FERC require broad cost allocation of extra high voltage transmission infrastructure due to its broadly-shared benefits.

Reid Detchon, Executive Director of the Energy Future Coalition, stated that “A robust, modern transmission infrastructure is essential both to develop our vast domestic clean energy resources and to effectively integrate demand-side options. We applaud the Commission for taking these important, measured steps to reform the outdated and fragmented system for planning and paying for electric transmission infrastructure. A strong, smart electric grid is critical to strengthening the U.S. economy, enhancing our national security, and addressing the threat of climate change.”

Extra high voltage lines, those 345kV and above, are the power superhighways that can link remote renewable resources – wind in the Great Plains, solar in the Southwest – with the towns and cities that use the electricity. Increased energy independence and cleaner air from renewable energy use benefit all Americans, thus transmission should be paid for by a broad swath of ratepayers. The NCETI comments suggest that FERC balance national and local interests by allocating costs broadly enough so as not to burden a single entity with the entire cost of new transmission lines while not charging ratepayers who do not benefit from the additional infrastructure.

Stakeholders who signed the comments include the Energy Future Coalition, Alliance for Clean Energy New York, Inc., American Wind Energy Association, BrightSource Energy, Center for American Progress, Conservation Law Foundation, Environment Northeast, Fresh Energy, Interwest Energy Alliance, Invenergy Thermal Development LLC, Invenergy Wind Development LLC, ITC Holdings Corp., Mesa Power Group, Mid-Atlantic Renewable Energy Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, Renewable Northwest Project, Sierra Club, Solar Energy Industries Association, The FERC Project, The Stella Group Ltd., The Wilderness Society, Union of Concerned Scientists, Utility Workers Union of America, and Western Grid Group.

Read NCETI’s comments here.