Brattle Principal Johannes Pfeifenberger recently authored a blog post for the Energy Systems Integration Group (ESIG) that discusses the need for a more proactive, multi-value approach to US electric transmission planning. Improving transmission planning, generation interconnection, and cost allocation processes is the subject of an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is currently seeking stakeholder comments – due on October 12, 2021 – on the potential reforms. This effort will require improvements in all stages of the planning processes.

Currently, only a small portion of investments in transmission grid improvement is supported by economic criteria and full analyses of broader regional and interregional benefits and costs. Mr. Pfeifenberger explains that a disproportionate focus on specific transmission reliability needs rather than economic criteria results in piecemeal upgrades that do not offer the highest value, lowest total cost solutions to modernize the electricity grid. This approach also does not yield any larger regional or interregional solutions, such as transmission overlays, which could be more cost effective in addressing the nation’s public policy needs and mandates, including the addition of clean energy resources.

Mr. Pfeifenberger points out that effective planning processes for transmission projects should be proactive, explicitly address long-term uncertainties, and employ a multi-value planning paradigm. More specifically, to increase their effectiveness, transmission planning processes will need to:

  1. Broaden the determination of transmission needs and solutions
  2. Approach every transmission project as a multi-value project
  3. Evaluate individual projects (or synergistic portfolios of projects) based on a broad range of transmission-related benefits
  4. Address short- and long-term uncertainties explicitly and proactively
  5. Determine cost allocation based on the broad range of transmission-related benefits and for entire portfolios of projects

To read the blog post, “A Call for More Pro-Active, Multi-Value Transmission Planning,” please visit ESIG’s website.