Powering Strong Communities

Schumer Urges FERC to Act on Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation, Backstop Siting Rules

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) recently sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission noting his “strong interest” in FERC “expeditiously finalizing a strong transmission planning and cost allocation rule, as well as a federal backstop electric transmission siting rule.”

In the July 20 letter, Schumer also writes that FERC has “more work to do on rules that make further progress” on generator interconnection queue reforms and interregional transfer requirements” to deliver reliable, affordable, and clean power to Americans.”

FERC’s agenda for its July 27 monthly meeting includes its proposed rulemaking on Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements.

With respect to the transmission and cost allocation rule, Schumer said he is concerned that the proposed rule is not strong enough.

He argued that a final rule must:

  • Include cost allocation provisions and prescribe a set of benefits of transmission that should be considered in planning to enable transmission lines to be identified and ultimately constructed;
  • Recognize that there is a role for FERC to provide guidance on how to fairly share the cost of need transmission when agreement [between states] cannot be reached;
  • Require transmission planners to take a long-term, forward-looking assessment of the energy mix, including scenarios with high penetration of renewables (including variable renewables like solar and wind), evaluate benefits that transmission projects would deliver during periods of grid stress, and use these assessed benefits as the basis for project selection; and
  • Require comprehensive consideration and incorporation of non-wires alternatives and opportunities to reconductor existing lines in a final rule.

As for the federal backstop siting authority rule, Schumer urged FERC to finalize a rule that “preserves state primacy over transmission permit applications while ensuring a project can move forward with a direct application to FERC after one year, and this should include allowing transmission projects to use [FERC’s] long-standing pre-filing process to decrease the risk of further delays of project approval.”

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