Fall 2016
 
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In This Issue
WIRES Celebrates Tenth Year!
Can FERC's Order 1000 Be Improved?
WIRES Promotes Transmission at 2016 Renewable Energy Expo
WIRES' Summer Meeting in Twin Cities
New Member Profile: PPL Electric
Shorts / Member News
Transmission News
 
Calendar  

FERC Commission Open Meeting
October 20

Transforming the US Electric System
October 27

WIRES Annual Mtg Nov. 9-10 

TransForum East
November 15-16
 
NARUC 128th Annual Meeting
November 13-16

FERC Commission Open Meeting
November 17
   
For the latest on other important events related to the high-voltage transmission grid, see the WIRES Calendar
 
WIRES Members




WIRES News

An Update on Transmission Law and Policy from WIRES

WIRES Celebrates Tenth Year!
WIRES held its first Annual Meeting in September 2006.  In ten years, we've expanded our membership to all regions of the country and to all types of firms - integrated public utilities, independent transmission companies, Crown corporations in Canada, cooperatives and publicly-owned utilities, technology and service firms, RTOs, renewable energy developers - and anyone else who recognizes that a robust transmission grid is the critical infrastructure link to the energy future.  Throughout, our mission has been clear - to promote transmission investment and to raise awareness of the challenges facing development of critical transmission infrastructure. 

Forgive us if we celebrate a little!  At our 10th Annual Meeting in November in Washington DC, we will hear from the  U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and  FERC Commissioner the Hon. Colette Honorable . For our 11th year and beyond, we will keep urging state, federal, and local policy makers, regulators, and consumers to prepare for the technology-, efficiency-, and consumer-driven North American economy of the mid-21st century by making the electric power infrastructure investments our economy will depend upon.  Thank you for your support.  

Highlights of Ten Years of Major Research, Reports, & Presentations
  • Well-Planned Electric Transmission Saves Customer Costs, with The Brattle Group (2016)
  • Toward More Effective Transmission Planning, with The Brattle Group (2015)
  • Market Resource Alternatives: An Examination of New Technologies in the Electric Transmission Planning Process, with London Economics (2014)
  • WIRES, Smart Transmission (2011)
  • Integrating Locationally-Constrained Resources Into Transmission Systems, with Charles River Associates (2008)
  • Blue Ribbon Panel: A National Perspective on Allocating Cost of New Transmission Investment: Practice and Principles (2007)
  • Twenty WIRES University Courses, including --
    • Electric Transmission 101 - How The Grid Works
    • Electric Transmission 201 - The High-Voltage Grid: Its Operations, Challenges, and Benefits
    • Electric Transmission 301 - Grid Resilience, Gas-Electric Coordination, and New Business Models  
Can FERC's Order 1000 Be Improved? A Dilemma for Regulators and Industry
On June 27-28, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission FERC logo ("FERC") held a technical conference to discuss with industry and the states several issues that have emerged in the wake of Order No. 1000, the five-year-old landmark initiative that required transmission planning processes and cost-allocation-decision-making to be conducted regionally across the U.S. (Docket No. AD16-18-000). FERC subsequently issued a list of questions asking industry to refine and elaborate in several areas.

In comments and at the conference, WIRES, represented by WIRES President Bob McKee of American Transmission Company, expressed concern about "interregional planning processes that . . . have not performed well in promoting the development of interregional projects that provide electricity customers in multiple regions with measurable reliability, economic, and public policy benefits."

WIRES fears that the interregional transmission planning and coordination processes actually inhibit development of more efficient or cost-effective interregional transmission solutions to the individual needs identified in the respective local and regional transmission planning processes.  In some RTOs, the inconsistency in the models, assumptions, scenarios, eligibility criteria, thresholds, and cost allocation methodologies used by regions in "joint evaluations" to identify candidate interregional projects is a barrier to successful interregional coordination and project development.  Experience to date indicates that projects that are commonly shown to provide numerous kinds of benefits in interregional evaluations nevertheless fail regional evaluations. 

The June 2016 Brattle Report, performed for WIRES, asserts that the various benefits of interregional transmission should be considered in evaluating projects for eligibility for interregional cost allocation.   Experience shows that they are often not taken into account and that the lowest-cost, most-beneficial solutions for customers tend not to be identified and advanced.  WIRES' specific concerns about the evaluation of project benefits and cost allocation include:
  • The benefits - particularly those related to economics - are commonly limited to one metric (e.g., APC in MISO or net load payments in PJM). Often overlooked are benefits specific to interregional projects, such as reserve sharing, which can reduce planning reserve margins and costs of needed capacity in each region. 
  • "Least common denominator" approaches to evaluating projects for interregional benefits consider only a limited subset of the project benefits. Consideration of only limited project types (e.g., reliability or economic projects), and requiring a project to provide identical benefits in more than one region ensures that important interregional projects will fail.
  • Interregional economic transmission projects should only meet the benefit-to-cost ratios of each region, and not an additional interregional cost-benefit ratio.
The dilemma for FERC and the industry involves how much standardization is appropriate, especially at this time when many regional Order 1000 planning processes are just getting started.  FERC's deference to differing regional needs and preferences, and its reluctance to mandate criteria for transmission planning or evaluation of competitive projects under Order 1000, suggest that federal transmission policy will evolve quite slowly.  WIRES believes that "anticipatory" infrastructure planning is the most efficient way to maintain competitive energy markets and incorporate emerging clean energy technologies in the next half century - planning which would greatly benefit from encouragement by FERC for RTOs to move in the direction of a shared approach to evaluating regional and interregional projects.
WIRES Promotes Transmission at 2016 Renewable Energy Expo
On July 12th, the 19th Annual Congressional Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO + Policy Forum brought together 49 businesses, trade associations and government agencies to discuss
renewable energy and the importance of efficiency, demand side
 efficiencies, and new generation resources. The event was sponsored by
Sustainable Energy Coalition, who invited WIRES for the second consecutive year, despite its historical position that transmission upgrades are important for all sources of electric generation and all uses of electric energy.

Senators Martin Heinrich (NM), Ed Markey (MA), Jack Reed (RI), and Senatorial candidate Chris Van Hollen (MD), pictured, spoke about clean energy challenges and opportunities, while Representatives Tony Cardenas (CA), Matthew Cartwright (PA), and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA) offered further clean energy insights in presentations that followed.

Jim Hoecker, WIRES Counsel and former FERC Chairman, emphasized that a more robust transmission infrastructure will complement and help deploy new technologies like distributed generation and storage.  "It's an important ingredient of our energy future," said Hoecker.  A video of the Grid, Storage and Transmission panel discussion offers further detail.
WIRES' Summer Meeting in Twin Cities
WIRES members gathered in the Twin Cities in July, attending meetings at Great River Energy's new HQ in Maple Grove, Xcel Energy's new HQ in Minneapolis, and an evening paddle-boat ride on the Mississippi River.  Member of the Senate Energy Committee
Senator Al Franken (D-MN) welcomed the group via video , sharing a strong message about the emerging clean energy resources in our country and the critical role that transmission will play in the industry's transformation.

Pictured aboard the Jonathan Padelford riverboat are WIRES 2016 Officers: President-Elect Kathleen Shea, Vice President, Transmission Development, Eversource; Secretary Tom Hestermann, Manager, Transmission Policy, Sunflower Electric Power Corporation; and Treasurer Gerald Deaver, Manager, Regional Transmission Policy, Xcel Energy and CapX2020; and President Robert McKee, Director of Regulatory Relations & Policy, American Transmission Company.
New Member Profile: PPL Electric Utilities Investing in the Future
New WIRES member PPL Electric Utilities  is investing in reliability across its 10,000-square-mile footprint in central and eastern Pennsylvania, improving its transmission grid, making it more dependable and storm resistant. Recent major projects include the Susquehanna-Roseland 500 KV transmission line and the Northeast-Pocono project, which included three new transmission substations and nearly 60 miles of new 230 KV power lines.  

"Investing in our transmission system means not only ensuring reliable service, but things like increased grid security and sustaining the economic vitality of our communities," said  Stephanie Raymond, Vice President of Transmission and Substations   [LinkedIn] PPL Electric Utilities. "Our membership in WIRES will enable increased collaboration with industry peers as we all continue our hard work on behalf of our customers."
Shorts / Member News
The Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard arguments about EPA's plan for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, which has been stayed by the Supreme Court.
EPA's Clean Power Plan  virtually ignored the critical role transmission must play in supporting the expansion of the renewable resources and gas-fired generation that the rule's success depends on. A ruling is expected in a few months but, in the meantime, natural gas prices continue to force coal generation to the margins or out of the market.

On September 30, 2016,  FERC Commissioner Tony Clark  retired after more than 4 years at the regulator. That leaves FERC with two vacancies that are not likely to be filled until May or June 2017 at the earliest.

WIRES welcomes new members Anbaric and Lindsey.
  • Anbaric is a project development company in New England that specializes in early-stage development of large-scale electric transmission systems and small-, medium- and large-scale microgrid projects. Because Anbaric has learned that transmission projects are extraordinarily difficult to permit, develop, finance, and build, it has gained a deep appreciation for "non-transmission alternatives" (NTAs).
  • For more than 70 years  Lindsey has engineered technically-innovative, cost-¬≠saving products to help global electric utilities meet the challenge of building and maintaining a modern electrical grid. Lindsey is the industry leader in Transmission Emergency Restoration Systems as well as the leading supplier of high accuracy distribution class current and voltage sensors for the "Smart Grid". 
In her new book  "The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans And Our Energy Future" Gretchen Bakke examines the history of electrical power and the challenges the modern grid faces. Bakke argues that today's under-funded power grid is incapable of taking the U.S. into a new energy future. Significant power outages began to increase in the 1980s, but that may not be the grid's biggest problem, Bakke says. Renewable power sources have grown dramatically in recent years but because our aging electrical grid isn't capable of integrating them into our energy use, so much power potential is not tapped. Listen to an interview between Bakke and Fresh Air's Dave Davies about The Grid. 
Transmission News
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If You Need, Own or Depend on Electric Transmission - You Should Join WIRES!
WI RES is the transmission industry's voice on key public policy issues at all levels of government.  During this time of change and challenge in Washington and across the country, your support for WIRES - and participation in its educational and advocacy programs - are essential to building America's electrical grid to meet both current and emerging challenges. 
 
If you're not already a member, join WIRES by contacting Counsel ( james.hoecker@huschblackwell.com or  jhoecker@helppllc.com ). Comments on this Newsletter or on any matter affecting electric transmission investment may be submitted to news@wiresgroup.com.
 
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