The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in discussions with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) to develop a formal approach between the states and FERC “that will allow us to jointly tackle” transmission issues head on, FERC Chairman Richard Glick said on April 15.
At the Commission’s monthly open meeting, Glick said he believes that FERC must make changes to its regulations and policies “to improve the way electric transmission is planned, paid for and operated.”
At the same time, “we also need to improve the process for interconnecting new generation to the transmission grid,” he said.
In addition, he said it is time to revisit the Commission’s oversight of transmission investment to “make certain captive customers aren’t paying for unneeded or unwise transmission projects.”
He said he plans “to sit down with my colleagues over the coming weeks to finalize a plan of action for moving forward with these much-needed changes” on transmission policy.
“It is also important that we recognize that the states are also going to play a very important role in building out the grid to accommodate the transition to the clean energy future,” Glick said.
He noted that FERC is currently in talks with NARUC to develop a more formal approach between the states and FERC that will allow FERC and the state utility commissions to jointly tackle transmission issues.
He hopes to have an announcement on the FERC-NARUC collaboration soon.
At the same time, he said that although substantial investments in new transmission capacity are needed, “we also must focus on making more efficient use of the existing grid.”
He argued that the current approach to utility regulation “often incentivizes more capital-intensive investments” in new steel in the ground “when more economical investments aimed at increasing the efficiency of the existing facilities could offer substantial benefits.”
Therefore, Glick announced a workshop on a shared savings approach for incentivizing technologies that will help increase the use of the existing grid.
“This is an idea presented in an earlier technical conference,” he noted.
“I am glad the Chairman has decided to hold a workshop on grid-enhancing technologies to further explore whether a shared savings type approach is viable,” said Commissioner Neil Chatterjee.
“That’s a step in the right direction when it comes to needed grid reforms,” Chatterjee said.
On April 19, FERC issued a notice establishing September 10, 2021 as the date of the workshop.
According to the notice, the workshop “will discuss issues related to shared savings approaches for transmission technologies seeking incentives under Federal Power Act section 219.”
Additional details concerning topics of discussion at the workshop are included in the notice.