US FERC Announces New Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission

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Mayer Brown - Energy Forward

On June 17, 2021, the United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order (Order) establishing a new Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission (Task Force), calling for nominations for state commission representation on the Task Force, setting forth preliminary details of the Task Force and identifying topics for the Task Force to consider. The Order is authorized by section 209(b) of the Federal Power Act.1

The Order states that the Task Force will focus on topics related to “efficiently and fairly planning and paying for transmission, including transmission to facilitate generator interconnection, that provides benefits from a federal and state perspective.” The Order lists these as example topics:

  • Identifying barriers that inhibit planning and development of optimal transmission necessary to achieve federal and state policy goals, as well as potential solutions to those barriers;
  • Exploring potential bases for one or more states to use FERC-jurisdictional transmission planning processes to advance their policy goals, including multistate goals;
  • Exploring opportunities for states to voluntarily coordinate in order to identify, plan, and develop regional transmission solutions;
  • Reviewing FERC rules and regulations regarding planning and cost allocation of transmission projects and potentially identifying recommendations for reforms;
  • Examining barriers to the efficient and expeditious interconnection of new resources through the FERC-jurisdictional interconnection processes, as well as potential solutions to those barriers; and
  • Discussing mechanisms to ensure that transmission investment is cost effective, including approaches to enhance transparency and improve oversight of transmission investment including, potentially, through enhanced federal-state coordination.

According to the Order, the Task Force will be composed of all FERC Commissioners as well as FERC-appointed representatives from 10 state commissions. State commission representatives will serve one-year terms with a maximum of three consecutive terms. State commission representatives will “sit in an advisory capacity.” In the Order, FERC requested that the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) submit nominations to the Commission for the 10 state commission representatives—two from each of NARUC’s five regions—no later than 30 days from the date of the Order.

The Task Force will hold multiple formal meetings annually, “with FERC issuing orders fixing the time and place and agenda for each meeting, after consulting with all Task Force members and considering suggestions from state commissions.” Task Force meetings will be “open to the public for listening and observing and on the record.” FERC expects the Task Force’s first public meeting to be held in fall 2021.

The Order was accompanied by a separate FERC order initiating a proceeding to determine to what extent individual states or groups of states may economically contribute to federally regulated transmission project development.2

 

1 16 U.S.C. § 824h(b).

2 State Voluntary Agreements to Plan and Pay for Transmission Facilities, Docket No. PL21-2-000 (June 17, 2021).

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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