Heinrich Unveils Bill To Recharge Electric Transmission Planning

The Interregional Transmission Planning Improvement Act will help build a more secure and robust 21st century energy infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Dec. 19, 2019) – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced S. 3109, the Interregional Transmission Planning Improvement Act of 2019. The legislation will help bolster the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) interregional transmission planning process. U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) introduced companion legislation today in the House.

In July 2011, FERC issued Order 1000 to revise rules on transmission planning, on allocating transmission costs, and on competitive bidding. However, as currently implemented, FERC Order 1000 is simply not achieving its stated goal to expand transmission. This is largely due to the fact that, although Order No. 1000 requires neighboring transmission planning regions to coordinate planning, it does not require a joint process or evaluation of interregional solutions and their benefits.

“There is a disconnect right now between transmission access and the best large-scale clean energy resources. Which is why we need to move quickly to expand transmission capacity to connect centers of supply and demand in this new energy landscape. That means making planning decisions on transmission at the regional level,” said Heinrich, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “It’s clear that FERC’s Order 1000 is not working as well as was intended. Although Order 1000 requires neighboring transmission planning regions to coordinate, it does not require a joint process or full evaluation of interregional solutions and their benefits. This legislation will require FERC to initiate a formal rulemaking that will help meet Order 1000’s goals.”

“New Mexico can be a leader in a renewable energy revolution that creates jobs across the state and fights climate change, but right now the inability to move electricity from where it is generated to where people need it stands in the way,” said Haaland. “The bill Senator Heinrich and I introduced today will help update our outdated energy infrastructure, so we can reliably move renewable energy around the country and increase opportunities for economic prosperity for our communities, while protecting our planet from devastating impacts of climate change.”

The Interregional Transmission Planning Improvement Act of 2019 directs FERC to consider in its rulemaking:

  • The effectiveness of the existing interregional planning process.
  • Specific improvement to the process that would meet the stated goals of Order 1000.
  • Cost allocation methodologies that reflect the multiple benefits provided by interregional solutions.

The bill directs FERC to initiate the rulemaking within six months of enactment and complete a final rule within 18 months of enactment.

To read the full version of the Interregional Transmission Planning Improvement Act, please click HERE.

The bill is endorsed by Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Wind Energy Association, Berkshire Hathaway Energy Company, BlueGreen Alliance, Ceres, Enel Green Power North America, Inc., ITC Holdings Corp., National Electric Manufactures Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Solar Energy Industries Association, Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Wind and Solar Alliance.