Policy Roadblocks & Solutions

Policy roadblocks in how we plan, pay for, and permit transmission are stunting grid development. These roadblocks include a dysfunctional and balkanized transmission planning and permitting process and a failure to recognize the benefits an expanded and modernized grid could provide. In the last decade, regionally planned transmission investment has decreased by 50 percent and almost no new interregional lines have been planned.

Low-cost clean energy is stuck in interconnection queues

At the end of 2020, 844 gigawatts (GWs) of proposed generation were waiting in interconnection queues nationwide, most of which are located in rural areas and 90 percent of which are renewable, energy storage, and hybrid resource projects. These individual generators are often required to pay for shared network facility upgrades to connect to the grid – a cost allocation structure akin to requiring the next car waiting to merge onto the highway to pay for a lane expansion that benefits all users. Neighboring planning authorities use different and sometimes incompatible models and methods that prevent agreement on interregional lines. 

The planning and permitting process does not recognize the benefits of an expanded and modernized grid

Transmission is generally planned separately for reliability, economic, and public policy purposes, rather than under a holistic approach that considers the joint benefits.  Permitting of lines benefitting many states and the nation is performed at the state and local levels, slowing development of regionally beneficial investments. 

Policy solutions need to be advanced to save consumers money

Congress, the Administration, and FERC can resolve transmission barriers. FERC can reform regional and interregional transmission planning and cost allocation methods, while replacing the dysfunctional generator interconnection process at the same time. Congress and the Administration can assist in the funding of large-scale interstate highway types of transmission lines. The Administration can support planning studies and stakeholder engagement, and utilize its limited federal backstop siting powers to site transmission lines that would not otherwise be constructed due to regulatory hurdles at the state and local levels.