Initial Comments of the R Street Institute

I. Issue Summary

On July 27, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (Commission) published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) on potential reforms to improve generator interconnection processes, regional transmission planning and cost allocation. On April 21, 2022, the Commission published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) based upon the ANOPR record. The NOPR would require public utility transmission providers (TPs) to:

  1. Conduct long-term regional transmission planning on a sufficiently forward-looking basis to meet transmission needs driven by changes in the resource mix and demand;
  2. More fully consider dynamic line ratings and advanced power flow control devices in regional transmission planning processes;
  3. Seek agreement of relevant state entities within the transmission planning region regarding the cost allocation method(s) that will apply to transmission facilities;
  4. Adopt enhanced transparency and coordination requirements with the aim of identifying potential opportunities to “right-size” replacement transmission facilities;
  5. Revise their existing interregional transmission coordination procedures to reflect the long-term regional transmission planning reforms proposed in this NOPR;
  6. Not permit TPs to take advantage of the construction-work-in-progress incentive for regional transmission facilities; and
  7. Permit TPs to the exercise of federal rights of first refusal for transmission facilities selected in a regional transmission plan for purposes of cost allocation, conditioned on the incumbent TP establishing joint ownership of the transmission facilities.

The R Street Institute (RSI) filed initial and reply comments in the ANOPR. As with the ANOPR comments, RSI is also filing separately in this notice as part of the Electric Transmission Competition Coalition.

II. Summary of R Street Position

The overarching objective of transmission policy is economically efficient regional transmission planning and cost allocation. This requires all expansion to pass a cost-benefit test, including robustness tests using long-term scenarios that capture risk and uncertainty; cost allocation based on the beneficiary-pays principle; competition for transmission asset ownership; and financial transmission rights. Reliability benefits should be accounted for on an economic valuation basis in an integrated process without artificial reliability and economic classifications; all reliability projects should be economic and all economic projects reliable. The costs of a public policy project failing a cost-benefit test should be allocated to the entities requesting the project. Planning processes should be conducted by an independent transmission planner across all Order 1000 regions in a manner that is stakeholder-inclusive, transparent, independent and accountable in order to prevent undue influence, especially from incumbent asset owners.

With this in mind, the NOPR overall is a mixed bag. A new RSI study (Consumer Study) that reflects a convening of transmission consumer groups infused with independent technical and legal analysis to maximize net benefits finds that the NOPR makes major progress on transmission planning and utilizing existing transmission infrastructure, but has mixed results on governance issues and would severely harm competition.

In these comments, RSI emphasizes the following for select provisions of the NOPR:

Read R Street’s full comments here.

Featured Publications