Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid
Transmission planners—engineers mainly—must now make judgments about state resource aims.
In the year’s most significant decision, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) told public utility transmission service providers they must participate in a regional planning process and go beyond the time-tested, twin engineering aims of ensuring reliability and reducing line congestion—to consider “public policy” needs. Such policies include state renewable portfolio standards, emissions controls issued under current or future regulations of the Environmental Protection Agency, or other state or federal mandates concerning demand response services, generation technologies, or even smart grid applications.
Known as FERC Order 1000, Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation by Transmission Owning and Operating Public Utilities, the new rule blurs the line between federally regulated transmission planning and state-imposed resource planning. It could lead even to the formation of regional state collaborative groups as a necessary step to allow states to define their own policy goals and incorporate them into a multi-state plan.
As PJM had predicted during the rule’s comment phase, the new regional model would “seem to point to the need for regional compacts among states.”