FOE Report Addresses Transmission Problems

Soon after the U.S. Senate passed the Energy Policy Act of 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its own assessment and recommendations regarding the U.S. electricity-transmission system. The report, the "National Transmission Grid Study," also supports mandatory federal reliability standards, along with new investment in transmission facilities and increased reliance on distribute...

09/01/2002


Soon after the U.S. Senate passed the Energy Policy Act of 2002, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its own assessment and recommendations regarding the U.S. electricity-transmission system. The report, the "National Transmission Grid Study," also supports mandatory federal reliability standards, along with new investment in transmission facilities and increased reliance on distributed generation, among other recommendations.

Specifically, the study calls for the DOE to assess the nation's electricity system every two years in a public process designed to identify bottlenecks in the grid that have national impact. Additionally, the report says the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) should be granted limited authority to site new transmission facilities in bottlenecked areas where the need for a new transmission authority is not being addressed.

Regional transmission organizations (RTOs) will play an important part in eliminating bottlenecks, the report argues. These groups are close enough to the ground to understand localized transmission problems, and should have the relationships necessary with state and local officials to develop appropriate plans. However, new transmission lines may not be the only option. With their understanding of local issues, RTOs may suggest placing new generating facilities closer to large power consumers or encourage incentives for distributed-generation alternatives, the report states.

Public participation earlier in the planning process is essential, according to the report. Currently, public opinion is often sought after transmission-facility siting has begun. As a result, alternative approaches are introduced during these belated public discussions. The time required to study the implications of these new options can prolong debate and delay construction, but by bringing the public into these conversations earlier, cooperation could be enhanced.

From Pure Power, Fall 2002





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