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Non-Transmission Alternatives

August 2016

Citation: 46 ELR 10688

Issue: 8

Author: Shelley Welton

Current transmission planning processes are unlikely to result in selection and implementation of non-transmission solutions, even where they are demonstrably superior. This shortcoming is obviously bad for proponents of distributed energy. It is also bad for those who hope to implement significant but thoughtful grid expansion in the coming decades. More transmission is critically needed to update infrastructure and to keep pace with renewable resource development, but each transmission line is also a fractious, expensive, and environmentally damaging endeavor. Where transmission can be avoided, it should be. FERC knows this, but has not yet translated its aspirations into effective regulations. Further reforms will be necessary to achieve true parity, and FERC should consider using its recently affirmed jurisdiction over practices affecting transmission rates to extend cost allocation to non-transmission alternatives. In the meantime, however, FERC needs a more forthright approach to non-transmission alternatives, which articulates the limitations of a stakeholder-driven comparable consideration mandate and seeks creative, collaborative solutions and reforms.

Shelley Welton is a Ph.D. Candidate in Law, Yale Law School.

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