Last week, IBEW 1245 Business Manager Bob Dean joined a broad multi-sector coalition of respected business, labor, and environmental leaders urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to adopt a strong rule to reform current electric transmission infrastructure planning and construction. Four of the 17 members of the coalition come from the IBEW, representing an unprecedented display of support from the labor community of a FERC policy matter.
In a joint letter to FERC Chairman Phillips and Commissioners Danly, Christie, and Clements, the coalition wrote:
It is widely recognized that significant new investment in transmission is needed to meet pressing changes such as an evolving generation resource mix, increasing electrification, and challenges to electric system reliability posed by extreme weather. We support the Commission’s proposal for regional, long-term, scenario-based transmission planning and urge the Commission to issue, as soon as practicable, a final rule that will facilitate needed transmission investment. The Commission should ensure that the final rule is sufficiently robust to achieve the Commission’s goal of ensuring just and reasonable rates and “remedy[ing] deficiencies in the Commission’s existing regional transmission planning and cost allocation requirements.”
As the Commission recognizes, patterns of load, generation, and weather are changing, and the Commission’s policies must ensure that transmission planners account for these changes. Transmission plans should be structured to identify investments that maximize benefits to customers. State input can and should be incorporated, along with a means of resolving disagreements on cost sharing for transmission plans. The final rule should also require implementation of the proposed right of first refusal provisions to facilitate timely development of needed transmission infrastructure. These provisions are appropriately tied to collaborative and holistic planning outcomes that provide clear benefits to customers, such as jointly owned regional projects and portfolios and “right-sized” projects, and would benefit the goals enunciated by the Commission throughout this rulemaking process. Finally, advanced technologies should be considered and included where appropriate, and planning processes should preserve appropriate levels of transparency for impacted stakeholders.
A weakened rule – that is, any rule that does not include these features – risks falling short of facilitating the grid Americans need. A robust rule with these features will help grow the economy, keep people safe during extreme weather, and hold electricity bills down. As the Commission completes its vital work on these issues, we stand ready to work with you to help finalize a strong transmission planning rule.
Dean is joined on the coalition by representatives from
IBEW Illinois State Conference
IBEW Sixth District
Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc.
Greater Warren County Economic Development Council
ITC Holdings Corp.
National Audubon Society
Pacific Gas & Electric Co.
The Permitting Institute
Public Service Electric and Gas Company
WEG Transformers USA