Transmission planning

Transmission planning is the process of identifying areas of the current transmission grid that are in need of expansion or upgrade to maintain reliability and ensure capacity deliverability due to changes in generation or demand.

Planning is the big picture process of assessing the robustness and reliability of the existing grid; as opposed to siting, which is the more narrowly focused process of determining exactly where a planned project will be located.

New transmission project drivers

Planning is the big picture process of assessing the robustness and reliability of the existing grid; as opposed to siting, which is the more narrowly focused process of determining exactly where a planned project will be located.

Based on technical and economic forecasts, planning must incorporate a host of unknowns, including EPA’s Clean Power Plan; load growth, scenarios based on new technologies such as plug-in hybrid electric vehicles; load decline based on economic downturn and/or energy efficiency programs; integration of variable renewable generation (primarily wind and solar) and new base load generation. It must also include known factors, such as replacement of aging infrastructure.

Failure to appropriately plan transmission may result in economic problems (congestion issues that raise consumer energy costs), as well as reliability issues and system outages.

Planning on a Regional Basis

Historically, local utilities planned transmission lines to serve local needs. They seldom crossed state borders. By 2000, the concept of organized wholesale energy markets had taken hold and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission instituted a series of rulemakings designed to structure fair and open transmission markets.

AEP employees developed a cutting edge technology called the Breakthrough Overhead Line Design (BOLDTM). This design provides more capacity, maximizes the use of right of way, and is more streamlined in appearance.

Breakthrough Overhead Line Design - BOLD

As these markets took hold and grew, the issue of transmission planning could no longer be easily confined to one state. Planning projects that crossed two or more jurisdictional boundaries became problematic and risky ventures for transmission owners.

With Orders 888 and 889, and subsequently Order 2000, FERC created a national system of regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs). Much of the country currently participates in either RTOs or ISOs.

With the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Congress attempted to expand federal jurisdiction in transmission planning with the establishment of National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors (NIETCs) and backstop siting authority for FERC. However, states were unwilling to relinquish authority they perceived to be their own, and transmission planning became a states’ rights issue.

AEP position

AEP is supportive of regional and interregional transmission planning processes that recognize the multitude of benefits that transmission facilities provide. In the absence of a broad-based planning approach, local planning processes result in the development of incremental projects, but rarely result in comprehensive, efficient solutions that meet the regions’ needs.

AEP believes a multi-driver transmission planning process – one that incorporates and considers reliability, economic and public policy needs in one comprehensive planning process – is critical to developing a comprehensive solution. AEP is supportive of such a multi-driver planning process.

Issues In Electricity

Issues In Electricity

Planning

Resources