Electricity Grid

On May 13, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) issued Order No. 1920, the Commission’s long-awaited final rule regarding regional electric transmission planning and cost allocation for future transmission projects on the nation’s interstate electric grid.  Order No. 1920 revises key aspects of the Commission’s current regional transmission planning and cost allocation policies, largely adopted in 2011 in Order No. 1000, in an effort to help accelerate the buildout of transmission infrastructure needed to serve the country’s changing resource mix and growing energy demand projections. 

The major reforms adopted by FERC in Order No. 1920 center around four key areas: (A) planning horizon; (B) developing planning scenarios; (C) selection of transmission solutions and (D) cost allocation, each discussed in more detail below. At a high level, the rule requires transmission providers to engage in long-term regional transmission planning at least 20 years in advance, use at least seven enumerated benefits for the evaluation and selection of long-term regional transmission facilities, and hold a six-month engagement period for relevant state entities before filing a cost allocation method for a chosen project with FERC. Yet, while the Commission’s overarching goal of Order No. 1920 appears to be the selection of efficient long-term regional transmission solutions by transmission providers, the rule makes no mention of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (National Interest Corridors), geographic areas designated by the Department of Energy (DOE) where transmission congestion or constraints have an adverse effect on consumers, and where, in certain circumstances, FERC has siting authority for transmission facilities under the Federal Power Act (FPA).     Continue Reading FERC Issues Order No. 1920 To Accelerate Regional Transmission Planning

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a final rule (Order No. 887) directing the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to develop new or modified Reliability Standards that require internal network security monitoring (“INSM”) within Critical Infrastructure Protection (“CIP”) networked environments.  This Order may be of interest to entities that develop, implement, or maintain hardware or software for operational technologies associated with bulk electric systems (“BES”).

The forthcoming standards will only apply to certain high- and medium-impact BES Cyber Systems.  The final rule also requires NERC to conduct a feasibility study for implementing similar standards across all other types of BES Cyber Systems.  NERC must propose the new or modified standards within 15 months of the effective date of the final rule, which is 60 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.  Continue Reading FERC Orders Development of New Internal Network Security Monitoring Standards

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a request for information (RFI) from the public on how the Defense Production Act (DPA) could best be used to accelerate domestic manufacturing and deployment of key technologies, strengthen U.S. power grid reliability, and deploy clean energy. This input will help DOE design DPA actions that scale up clean energy while strengthening national security and reducing fuel prices. Continue Reading DOE Requested Information on How Defense Production Act Could Support National Security and Grid Resiliency

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to reform its generator interconnection process. The proposed rules are intended to expedite the connection of new generator and storage facilities to the grid, and to clear out a burgeoning interconnection backlog, predominantly of renewable and storage resources.

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Driven by the entry of renewable generation resources locating far from load centers and the new demands placed on the grid by their differing characteristics, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) launched a comprehensive review of its policies regarding regional transmission planning, interconnection and cost-allocation.  In an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR), the agency requested public comments on its current policies and offered potential areas for reform with a view toward anticipated future generation.  According to FERC Chairman Richard Glick, “(a) piecemeal approach to expanding the transmission system is not going to get the job done. We must take steps today to build the transmission that tomorrow’s new generation resources will require.”
Continue Reading FERC Reviewing Rules for Grid of the Future

This is the twenty-fourth in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

In 2020 alone, the United States suffered 22 separate extreme weather and climate-related disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, for a total of more than $100 billion in losses.  That staggering statistic is not an anomaly, as climate change continues to result in more and more extreme weather events every year.  For example, the Texas freeze that rocked the state earlier this year and killed more than one hundred people, also shut down the state’s significant petrochemical industry, disrupting supply chains nationwide, and caused an estimated $80 billion to $130 billion in direct and indirect economic losses.  Hundreds of deaths are attributed to the unprecedented and record-breaking heat wave of the Pacific Northwest, and a British Columbia village where the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada was devastated by wildfire.  Taking into account these and other weather-related tragedies, the losses become inestimable on a human scale.
Continue Reading X-Treme Weather and the Need for Climate Resiliency

This is the twenty-first in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) sets an ambitious goal of “achieving 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035.”  To accomplish this, the AJP proposes significant investments in grid modernizationtransmission infrastructureoffshore wind, and energy storage, as detailed by our prior posts.  Whether these investments – carrots, if you will – will be sufficient to drive down emissions in all states and achieve the 2035 target, in the absence of an enforceable clean electricity standard (CES), remains uncertain.  Equally uncertain is the pathway for Congress to enact a CES.
Continue Reading Using Carrots and Sticks to Unleash the Potential for Clean Utilities

On June 17, FERC took two actions intended to facilitate greater coordination with and between state regulators on electric transmission policy and development.  First, FERC issued an order establishing a Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission (Task Force), and soliciting nominations for state commission representation on the Task Force from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). According to FERC’s order, the Task Force will focus on topics related to efficiently and fairly planning and paying for transmission, including generator interconnection, that provide benefits from a federal and state perspective. If successful, the Task Force could play a critical role in re-designing FERC’s interstate transmission policy to better accommodate the state-policy-driven development of renewable energy generation facilities across the country.
Continue Reading FERC Establishes Unprecedented Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission, Issues Policy Statement on State Voluntary Agreements

In a recent order, FERC pulled back, for now, its decision to sharply limit the ability of retail regulators to prohibit distributed energy resource (DER) aggregators from bidding retail customer demand response (DR) into wholesale markets.  Instead, the issue will be considered in  an ongoing inquiry that is addressing whether to totally eliminate the ability of retail regulators to keep retail DR resource offers out of FERC-jurisdictional wholesale markets.
Continue Reading FERC Reconsidering Limits On Retail Regulator Control Over Aggregating Demand Response

This is the 18th in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

In August 2020, a wildfire broke out along Route 70 in Glenwood Canyon, a major thoroughfare across the Rocky Mountains in central Colorado. The fire quickly burned through vegetation on either side of the canyon, loosing rocks that shut down Route 70 for two weeks. As the fire spread, it temporarily shuttered the Shoshone Generating Station, a hydroelectric power station that controls water flow in the upper Colorado River, and forced residents of several communities to evacuate to Glenwood Springs, a nearby town of 10,000. By the time the fire was put out in December, it had burned over 30,000 acres and cost over $30 million to contain.
Continue Reading Readying for Resilience through Infrastructure