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An Update on Transmission Law and Policy from WIRES

First Quarter 2019

A report by WIRES in March found that the drive towards electrification of transportation and heating in the U.S. will require between $230 and $690 billion in major new electric transmission infrastructure investment by 2050. The report, prepared by The Brattle Group at the request of WIRES, projects that major increases in electricity demand created by electrification of the heating and transportation sectors will necessitate significant new investments in the transmission network, to as much as $35 Billion annually after 2030. The benefits of transmission in lowering customer costs and making the grid resilient overall remain the primary drivers for transmission investment, however.

The number of electric vehicles (EVs) on the road are slated to jump from one million today to seven million by 2025. The Report contemplates a major shift to electrified transportation by 2050. Without innovation and new investment, the existing grid will be challenged to serve this new load. New facilities like fast-charging stations on major highways will be important to meeting the expectations of state policy makers and many consumers that EVs will be a viable alternative to fossil fueled mobility. These developments will also drive the need for low-carbon and renewable electric generation resources, the report concludes. Investment in a more robust transmission infrastructure will be necessary to support this fundamentally different energy economy

"The writing on the wall is clear; we're headed toward a cleaner energy future. The transportation and heating sectors will be electrified -- it's just a matter of when," said Brian Gemmell, President of WIRES Group and Vice President of Transmission and Asset Management with National Grid. "We need to start planning now in order to keep pace with the coming increased demand and to ensure continued reliability of the US electric system."


At its March Meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) launched two new inquiries into electric transmission rates in order to consider whether the transmission grid, fostered for over two decades by open access, incentive rates, and regional planning solutions, is maturing fast enough in ways that serve the public interest in reliable, low-cost power. The Commissions gave commenters 90-120 days within which to help create a record about how its transmission incentives policies could be updated and about the methodology for establishing rates of return on equity, an issue that has been the subject of complex litigation in some regions of the country. WIRES will therefore be considering filing in the following dockets:

Inquiry Regarding the Commission's Electric Transmission Incentives Policy. Initial Comments are due June 25, 2019, and Reply Comments are due July 25, 2019 in Docket No PL19-3-000. Among the important issues raised by the NOI is how the need for incentives can be based on the value or benefits of transmission projects instead of just their risks.   84 FR 11759 (Volume 84, Number 60 | Pages 11759-11768)

Inquiry Regarding the Commission's Policy for Determining Return on Equity. Comments are due June 26, 2019 in Docket No. PL19-4-000 and reply comments are due July 26. This broad inquiry into how base returns are set creates some interesting complications for pending ROE cases that are subject to prior orders that allow use of alternative ROE methodologies instead of just DCF. 84 FR 11769 (Volume 84, Number 60 | Pages 11769-11777)


At its Winter Meeting March 5-6, 2019 in Washington, DC. WIRES members elected David Bonenberger, of PPL Electric Utilities to the Board of Directors.  Tom Hestermann of Sunflower Electric Power Corporation and Dan Prowse of Manitoba Hydro were elected President-Elect and Secretary, respectively. Congratulations to David, Tom, and Dan.


On March 6, WIRES held a policy forum in the National Press Club. The Honorable Brian Harrell, Assistant Director for Infrastructure Security, U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) served as the keynote speaker.  The Policy Forum consistent of the follow panels and speakers:

"Hardening The Grid: Logistics, Technology, and Hardware"

  • Terry Boston, Grid Protection Alliance & Terry Boston Consulting 
  • John Kumm, Vice President Field Services, Power Engineers 
  • Dr. Keith Lindsey, Lindsey Inc. 
  • Mike Deggendorf, CEO, Grid Assurance
"Electric Vehicles Infrastructure - How Soon? & What Is The Hold-Up?" 
  • Nina Plaushin, WIRES President, Americans For A Clean Energy Grid, VP Regulatory, Federal Affairs, & Communications, ITC Holdings, Moderator
  • Genevieve Cullen, President, Electric Drive Transportation Association
  • Dan Bowermaster, Electric Power Research Institute
  • Jurgen Weiss, The Brattle Group
Lunch speaker on FERC's Order No. 1000:
  • Hon. Tony Clark, Wilkinson Barker, Knauer & former FERC Commissioner
"Technology: How Do We Get The Most Out of The Grid?"
  • Brian Gemmell, WIRES President, VP Transmission Asset Management & Planning National Grid 
  • Steve Herling, Vice President - Planning, PJM Interconnection
  • Bruce Rew, Vice President, Operations, Southwest Power Pool
  • Steve Hauser, Executive Director, Grid Wise Alliance
  • Bill White, Director of Business Development/Northeast US, CTC Global
  • Luke Chaput, President, Ampjack    

WIRES hosted its Transmission 101 Briefing on Capitol Hill as the kick-off to a series of briefings in 2019 aimed at informing policy makers about the role that transmission plays in ensuring the availability of efficient, reliable, and low-cost electricity for consumers. This session marked the fifth time WIRES has explained the basics of how the grid is planned, operates and is changing. This briefing was sponsored by Congressman Paul Tonko, who spoke at the briefing and highlighted new approaches to grid policy.

Panelists Included: 
  • Josh Rawley, Burns and McDonnell 
  • Rob Gramlich, Grid Strategies 
  • Michael Hagerty, The Brattle Group


At the annual Power Engineers Conference in Idaho in February, new WIRES President Brian Gemmell, Vice President of Transmission Asset Management & Planning with National Grid, gave a presentation about WIRES and the benefits of investment in transmission as the critical link to our energy future.  Gemmell pointed out that an investment of up to $16 billion-a-year in transmission infrastructure creates up to 200,000 jobs, builds grid resilience and provides access to new, cleaner energy resources.  In addition, it leads to reduced congestion and generation costs, enhances system reliability and reduces system-wide production costs.
WIRES Participation with the 
Midwestern Governors Association 

WIRES is now a sponsor of MGAs Grid Security and Modernization Phase 3 Initiative. During Phase 2 of the MGA's Grid Security & Modernization Initiative in 2018, participants examined efforts to modernize the grid and confront emerging security threats, learned about data access and privacy issues, and the power of customer data to improve energy efficiency and consumer engagement initiatives.
In 2019, Phase 3 will look at grid issues for the perspective of key stakeholders. MGA and sponsors will hear from ISO/RTOs, utilities, regulators, and developers on the challenges they face to deliver secure, reliable, cost effective energy to the region. By sponsoring, WIRES has free membership in the MGA's Partners Program through December 2019, along with attending meetings and events.

For more events, see the WIRES calendar

Building E-Mobility into 21st Century Infrastructure by Electric Drive Transportation Association. Join the Electric Drive Transportation Association on Wednesday, May 1st from 1:30 to 4 PM at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, for the next installment in our Leader Series.

A keynote speaker will share an integrated view of electric transportation in the 21st century and two moderated panels will include representatives of the entire value chain of e-mobility. A networking break with refreshments is included.

On May 13 - 14 the WIRES Full Supporting Members will meet in Boston for their Strategy Session. 


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 and Executive Director, James Hoecker ( . Comments on this Newsletter or on any matter affecting electric transmission investment may be submitted to

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