Transmission enables the efficient transfer of low-cost clean energy across and among geographic areas to ensure a reliable, low cost, clean energy supply. To achieve 100% clean electricity by 2035 the U.S. transmission system needs to expand by 50-90%. Current transmission planning is reactive to new generation builds and misses efficiencies that could be identified by more holistic planning. Additionally, in the absence of workable cost allocation methods for regional and interregional transmission or functioning interconnection queues, many projects are stalled, halting transmission expansion. As of 2022, interconnection queues are backed up with roughly 1,400 GW of clean energy resources waiting to connect to the grid.
To succeed in expanding transmission capacity for a decarbonized grid, regional transmission planning, transmission cost allocation, and the interconnection queue need to be improved. CEBI provides education and research into regional transmission planning and oversight by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that achieves appropriate grid expansion while ensuring benefits exceed costs, grid-enhancing technologies are appropriately deployed, and the replacement of old assets is done in a way that captures longer term and regional efficiencies.
The Benefits of New Regional Transmission Planning Entities in The U.S. West And Southeast Regions
This report evaluates the benefits of independent region-wide transmission planning, the current situation in the West and Southeast, and the additional benefits and functions beyond planning that an independent region-wide institution such as a regional transmission organization (RTO) could provide. The report also examines how these efforts relate to FERC initiatives and next steps these regions could undertake.
Western Transmission: Improving Regional Planning
Meaningful and robust regional transmission plans developed through open and transparent planning efforts are needed to maintain resource adequacy and meet state goals. Future transmission reform should develop a regional transmission planning entity to ensure we fully tap into geographically diverse sources for electricity supply and demand in neighboring areas that have opposite or minimally correlated patterns.
Southeastern Transmission: Improving Regional Planning
The status quo for Southeastern regional transmission planning entities is to gather and report on individual utility transmission plans across the region. To benefit all customers and build trust in outcomes, the Southeast needs open and transparent planning that vets assumptions and methodologies and reviews alternatives, including the efficiencies of exchange and economies of scale that a regional transmission planning entity would bring.
Western Transmission: Increasing Transparency and Overcoming Congestion
The West currently faces several barriers to optimized transmission use, including a lack of transparent data and sufficient line capacity.
A West-wide regional transmission organization (RTO) or independent system operator (ISO) could help relieve these barriers.
Electric Transmission Planning Primer
This education tool for energy customers shares the basics of transmission planning by exploring infrastructure components, jurisdictional authorities, key stakeholders, and current planning processes. The Primer explores the role of transmission in efforts to decarbonize the grid, in achieving energy customers’ clean energy goals, and the challenges and reform opportunities under existing transmission policies.
White Paper on Transmission Planning Reforms to Support Large Customer Clean Energy Demand and Investment
The Transmission Planning Reforms to Support Large Customer Clean Energy Demand and Investment Whitepaper builds upon recommendations on transmission highlighted in CEBI’s Designing the 21st Century Electricity System report by outlining near-term reforms needed to ensure large energy customers’ demand and investment in clean energy is effectively considered and integrated into transmission planning. Informed by interviews from a diverse set of experts and large energy customers, the white paper describes potential steps Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and transmission planners can take to better align customer demand and transmission planning.
Supporting Large Customer Clean Energy Demand Through Transmission Reform
In this webinar, CEBI presented potential reforms for transmission planning that are underway and the specific ways large energy customers can play an integral role. It also described avenues for customers engaging with utilities and RTOs to effectively communicate the large clean energy customer’s perspective on engaging in transmission reform and planning.