In June 2020, FERC Staff issued a report on barriers and opportunities for high voltage transmission to the Committees on Appropriations of Both Houses of Congress. Staff concludes that high voltage transmission can improve the reliability and resilience of the transmission system by allowing utilities to share generating resources, enhance the stability of the existing transmission system, aid with restoration and recovery after an event, and improve frequency response and ancillary services throughout the existing system. High voltage transmission also provides greater access to location-constrained resources in support of renewable resource goals. It also offers opportunities to meet federal, state and local policy goals. Staff found that while transmission development opportunities exist, there are also barriers which make development of high voltage transmission challenging. For instance, siting of high voltage transmission, generally an area of state jurisdiction, requires navigating each state process or multiple state processes for an interstate high voltage transmission facility. Various other authorizations and reviews are also generally required at the federal, state, and local levels. Additionally, the time required to develop a high voltage transmission facility that meets mandatory Reliability Standards, maximizes system benefits, and strikes a balance among interested stakeholders (including states) can be in excess of a decade. Specific to the nation’s transportation corridors, there are several federal and state actions intended to create opportunities for energy infrastructure development, including high voltage transmission, in these corridors. However, future transmission development in existing transportation corridors may be restricted by routing limitations, including state and local prohibitions and restrictions, and safety and technical considerations.
Dr. Paul Dumais
CEO of Dumais Consulting with expertise in FERC regulatory matters, including transmission formula rates.