By Shelley Welton, CCCL Deputy Director and Fellow
This summer is an important time for clean energy enthusiasts to pay closer attention to the complex, technical world of electric transmission planning and siting. In July 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order No. 1000, the latest in a series of orders directed at improving federal transmission access, planning, and coordination. Order 1000 requires, for the first time, that transmission providers engage in region-wide transmission planning, and further mandates that such planning consider how federal and state public policies affect transmission needs. Public utility transmission providers are now in the process of amending their operating tariffs to comply with this new order.
Order 1000 has been widely touted for its potential to help update our national transmission grid to meet the increasing demand for new transmission created by policies promoting renewable energy. Less remarked upon is the role that Order 1000 could play in ensuring more thoughtful consideration during regional transmission planning of how energy efficiency and demand response policies – critical demand reduction strategies – affect the need for new transmission. If thoroughly incorporated into local and regional transmission planning, energy efficiency and demand response policies could serve as beneficial limiting forces on the size, shape, and cost of our future electric grid.
In a new working paper published on our website, the Center for Climate Change Law describes some of Order 1000’s key planning reforms, discusses how the order can facilitate consideration of these demand-side policies, and offers suggestions on the ways that regional transmission planners might use Order 1000 as an opportunity to update transmission planning to better match our nation’s evolving priorities for the electricity grid. This working paper will appear as an article in the November 2012 issue of The Environmental Law Reporter. Along with this working paper, we have also posted a non-comprehensive list of some of the federal and state policies on renewable energy, energy efficiency, and demand response that transmission providers might consider incorporating into transmission planning. The breadth and depth of this list serves as evidence of just how large an impact these policies might have on future thinking about transmission needs, if taken fully into consideration.
 See Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation by Transmission Owning and Operating Public Utilities, Order No. 1000, 76 Fed. Reg. 49842 (August 11, 2011), 136 FERC Stats. & Regs. ¶ 61,051 (2011).