Many current policies pose barriers to greater use of cleaner resources. There are also growing efforts, in western states and nationally, to implement measures that support procurement of energy efficiency and renewables.
Programs under consideration by the Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECCWestern Electricity Coordinating Council) and Western Governors Association (WGAWestern Governors’ Association www.westgov.org), for example, could greatly reduce the cost of integrating renewables while improving system operational flexibility. Western Grid Group works with utilities, regulators, Governors and other decision-makers to support implementation of such programs.
Obtaining transmission access for clean resources is WGGWestern Grid Group www.westerngrid.net’s core focus. We work in state regulatory proceedings to this end, and develop policies to solve large-scale problems that limit transmission access. In 2004, for example, WGG developed the concept of Conditional-Firm transmission service, based on detailed engineering analysis of flows on major western transmission paths.
Conditional-Firm service, now available from Bonneville Power Administration under a FERCFederal Energy Regulatory Commission - The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC, is an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gave FERC additional responsibilities as outlined in FERC's Top Initiatives and updated Strategic Plan.-approved tariff, enables wind generators to obtain transmission service on lines that are fully loaded only a few hundred hours per year. This allows wind projects to connect to the existing transmission system without having to wait years for new transmission capacity to be built.
Policies that provide for incremental gains in the use of cleaner resources are critical for the near-term growth of new energy-saving and energy-generating technologies. At the same time, establishing a clean energy economy requires changing the ways utility companies make money, and the regulatory policies that structure the electricity industry.
The Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP), working with WGG, has developed a suite of policy proposals that give comprehensive preference in planning, procurement, interconnection and transmission access to clean resources. Clean-First: Aligning Power Sector Regulation With Environmental And Climate Goals shows how current policies encourage continued use of coal and gas and limit use clean resources—and the different regulatory framework needed to put our electric sector on a path to achieve energy security, economic development, public health and environmental goals.