CFTP President Sue Sheridan Voices Concerns About FERC Transmission Order 1000 in Focus Washington Interview
WASHINGTON, Jan. 30, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy President Sue Sheridan has expressed reservations about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's controversial Order 1000, especially the contentious provisions that address transmission planning and the allocation of costs for new power lines.
"On planning, we differ with the commission in that we favor bottom-up planning," Sheridan said in a recent interview with Focus Washington, a Washington, D.C. webcast focused on public policy. Determining where transmission lines should be built and how much transmission needs to be built "must start at the local and state level, with the people who are closest to consumers," Sheridan emphasized.
"And on cost allocation, the coalition is very concerned because it seemed FERC is willing to socialize the cost of transmission very broadly. In short, we are very concerned that some of our consumers will be tagged with the costs of transmission that they don't get any benefits from," Sheridan said.
FERC officials have insisted in speech after speech that any costs imposed on consumers should be roughly commensurate with benefits, but the coalition and pro-consumer groups "think the rhetoric does not meet the reality," Sheridan said. The biggest problem is FERC refused to define benefits in Order 1000. "As a result, there's no guarantee consumers won't end up paying for something they don't use," she added.
The commission's order in the MISO transmission case, a decision affecting consumers in 11 states in the Midwest, has also raised doubts about FERC's commitment to the principle that only the beneficiaries of new transmission should pay for it. Michigan is in a deep recession, yet 20 percent of the cost of building new transmission in the Midwest will be borne by Michigan consumers receiving little or no benefit from most of these power lines, Sheridan explained. "We are very much concerned with the MISO order," Sheridan said.
Asked if Congress might address transmission policy in 2012, Sheridan noted the interest in the issue, especially in the Senate. Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and others co-sponsored bipartisan legislation that would protect consumers from unfair electricity costs. "That's very encouraging for us," Sheridan said.
On the House side, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing on transmission last fall and lawmakers may focus attention on the issue in 2011, despite the conventional wisdom that addressing major energy policy in an election year is difficult. "It's the type of year where there can be a real focus on what FERC is doing [on transmission] and what our concerns are," Sheridan continued.
Despite concerns about some of the specifics of FERC's transmission policy, Sheridan repeated the coalition's long-standing commitment to new transmission and renewable energy. Utilities are building new transmission lines, Sheridan noted. The Edison Electric Institute reported in November that in 2010 transmission investment by investor-owned utilities and transmission companies topped $10 billion for the first time and will up their spending to almost $14 billion in 2013.
Every coalition member invests in renewable energy, Sheridan pointed out. However, consumers want the lowest-cost electricity powered by wind, solar and other sources of green energy. "What we're not interested in and won't support are either regulatory or legislative changes that would subsidize long-distance transmission when there may be cheaper renewables closer to home," Sheridan said.
About the coalition:
The coalition's seven members are CMS Energy Corporation, Consolidated Edison, Inc., DTE Energy Company, Progress Energy Inc., Public Service Enterprise Group, SCANA Corporation, and Southern Company. More than 28 percent of U.S. electric customers, representing 26 states, are served by utilities and companies which are either formal members of the coalition or are on record supporting the group's goals. For more information, visit the coalition's website, www.fairtransmission.org.
SOURCE Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy
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