Powering Strong Communities

New Legislation Calls For FERC Action Tied To Transmission, Interconnection Issues

A group of senators recently introduced legislation related to transmission and interconnection issues that calls on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to take a number of actions.

The bill, the Connecting Hard-to-reach Areas with Renewably Generated Energy (CHARGE) Act (S.3879), was introduced by Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI).

The bill would require several changes at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Specifically, it would require FERC to issue a rulemaking on interregional transmission planning and interconnection-wide transmission planning process, including cost allocation, as well as a rulemaking establishing a minimum transfer capability requirement between transmission planning regions.

The bill also requires all FERC-jurisdictional utilities to make hourly operating data, including greenhouse gas emissions, available to the public and implements open competitions for new electricity generation projects.

In addition, the measure would amend the Federal Power Act (FPA) to prohibit FERC from using “price mitigation methods to counteract the effects of State subsidies for renewable energy resources.”

It also calls for the issuance of a rulemaking on interconnection, including a prohibition on requiring an interconnection customer to “exclusively or disproportionately fund, without reimbursement, the costs of any network upgrade identified as necessary for the interconnect request.”

In late 2021, the American Public Power Association (APPA) told FERC that any proposed rule in a FERC transmission-related proceeding should avoid mandating “top down” planning approaches, particularly those that identify resources based on speculative long-term assumptions about particular areas that have “potential” for resources to be developed, and/or that are based on long-range planning horizons.

APPA’s reply comments came in an advance notice of proposed rulemaking (ANOPR) proceeding at FERC. FERC issued the ANOPR in July 2021 to reform its transmission planning, cost allocation, and generator interconnection rules (Docket No. RM21-17).

APPA emphasized in its initial comments that its members’ experiences regarding transmission planning, generator interconnection, and cost allocation have varied by region and by transmission provider, and that diversity of perspectives is evident in the initial comments.