First Quarter 2017
 
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In This Issue
FERC'S Unprecedented Paralysis
WIRES Winter Meeting Asks: Are Expectations for Action on Infrastructure Investment Too High?
WIRES-led Coalition Reminds Capitol Leaders about Importance of the Grid
WIRES University on Capitol Hill
Mark Your Calendars: WIRES University - the Graduate Course
Regulatory Reform a la Trump
New Member Spotlight: Navigant Consulting, Inc
Transmission News
 
Calendar  
   
For the latest on other important events related to the high-voltage transmission grid, see the WIRES Calendar
WIRES News

An Update on Transmission Law and Policy from WIRES

FERC'S Unprecedented Paralysis
Having just two commissioners, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has lost its practical and legal ability to act. The Trump Administration, now over 80 days old, has offered the U. S. Senate no indication of its "intention to nominate" persons for the remaining three seats.  As a result, rate applications, certificate requests, and other regulatory actions are in limbo.
WIRES Winter Meeting Asks:  Are Expectations for Action on Infrastructure Investment Too High?
Elections have consequences, but for federal encouragement of infrastructure investment, not so much - at least not so far.  WIRES' first meeting of 2017 - and the first of its second decade of work on electric transmission policy - focused on what the dramatic changes in Washington and in capital markets could mean for the grid. "There will be action on infrastructure," said former Congressman and head of Resources for the Future Phil Sharp, now at the Center on Global Energy Policy at Harvard.  Infrastructure typically means highways, harbors, airports, usually financed with public money .  But, stated Sharp, "e nergy is a major enabler of other economic activity; if you want to make America great again, you better pay attention to the energy infrastructure." Although there have been glimmers of hope from Capitol Hill, the new Trump Administration has not yet articulated a plan of action in this area.
WIRES-led Coalition Reminds Capitol Leaders about Importance of the Grid

Dear Senate Majority Leader McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Schumer, Speaker Ryan and House Minority Leader Pelosi:

Among the public policy objectives that command diverse bipartisan support is the need to restore, improve, and modernize the nation's essential infrastructure. President Trump has made clear that legislation to strengthen America's foundational facilities and public assets will be an early priority of his Administration. Electric transmission grid infrastructure is one sector that can accelerate economic advancement, create jobs and save consumers money, if given due attention.   Read the complete letter on the WIRES blog
WIRES University on Capitol Hill - Spreading the Word
During the 15th WIRES University session held for the benefit of Congressional staff and the public in February, WIRES Counsel, the House Grid Innovation Caucus, and a panel of experts once again presented Electric Transmission 101 .  The co-chairs of the Grid Innovation Caucus in the House of Representatives, Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Congressman Bob Latta (R-OH) led off explaining their commitment to ensuring the right combination of funding, incentives, and oversight for a healthy and sustainable grid for the 21st Century.  Latta told the audience of 150, "Transmission is the backbone of our national energy system. Steel, manufacturing, automotive, agricultural - we all need more reliable electricity."  
Mark Your Calendars: WIRES University - the Graduate Course
On May 25, WIRES will return to the Hill for a day-long education session for Congressmen, Hill staffers, and the public.  This will be an intensive Graduate Course that develops current perspectives on the economic, environmental, and technological benefits of a more robust transmission grid.  Watch the WIRES calendar for details. 
Regulatory Reform a la Trump
The President launched his reform agenda quickly after the Inauguration.  Potentially it will impact infrastructure development in areas like transmission, which are heavily regulated.  However, with the exception of projects on federal lands or otherwise subject to the jurisdiction of federal power marketing agencies, transmission siting and permitting remains largely a state matter despite its character as interstate commerce.  The recent Executive Orders used to launch the President's reforms are as follows: 
  • E.O. 13766: Expediting Environmental Reviews and Approvals for High Priority Infrastructure Projects, 01/24/2017
  • E.O. 13771: Reducing Regulation and Controlling Regulatory Costs, 01/30/2017
  • E.O. 13781: Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch, 03/13/2017
New Member Spotlight: Navigant Consulting, Inc.
New WIRES member Navigant is a management-consulting firm with a skilled Energy practice.  Navigant's Energy group, headed by energy veterans Don Morrow and Laura Manz, marries a unique combination of broad-market strategic analysis with technical overlays.  "We have a tactical shop full of engineers and the like who are on the cutting edge of new technologies, industry best practices.  To that we add our economic and market analysis shop that keeps the economic models up to date on everything from political transitions to price trends to generation shifts," according to Manz, Director in the Energy practice.  "Navigant's broad reach is what sets it apart from other consulting firms.  We can take a project from a patch of dirt to putting mega-watts on the grid."
 
Navigant is working in all three major North American markets, and sees the energy imbalance in the West as a key market driver for activity in the US and Mexico.  Navigant is also working closely with clients to re-define resilience - it's no longer enough to strengthen the energy infrastructure with regard to weather events.  "Now the grid needs smartening up," says Manz.  "But what does that mean?  As removals continue to proliferate, renewables come on line, and technologies are added at the edge of the grid, we are asking the grid to operate in a way it was never envisioned to do."
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Transmission News
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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