Analysis: Western US makes a push on Order 1000

OREANDA-NEWS. Western US power planning authorities by the end of 2015 will be able to claim they have satisfied a federal requirement for the planning of transmission upgrades and new projects on an inter-regional scale.

An inter-regional planning process will go into effect on 1 October for the California Independent System Operator, the Northern Tier Transmission Group and WestConnect. The ColumbiaGrid planning group in the Pacific northwest started putting the requirement into practice on 1 January.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order 1000 in 2011, requiring grid operators to align transmission planning and cost allocation across multiple layers of authority in their regions. California's regional compliance effort was the first in the US to get the federal agency full endorsement.

California's primary grid has cleared the last hurdle for the inter-regional planning effort, setting new cost allocation principles for calculating the benefits of projects located outside of its boundaries. Ultimately, California will compare the net costs and benefits of both local solutions and inter-regional transmission projects.

Western planning authorities are meeting in Portland today to discuss progress on inter-regional planning and to compare notes. The planning regions are vastly different in the supply mix, load patterns and dispatch arrangements, so coordinating across jurisdictional lines will prove even more complex than the regional planning exercises so far.

California's primary grid is the only independent system operator in the west under direct FERC jurisdiction. The three other groups have looser authority over its members, even though they can make billion-dollar recommendations on transmission. WestConnect has endorsed \$13.3bn worth of planned projects this year. ColumbiaGrid's 2015 biennial plan includes more than 50 projects with a \$2.5bn tab.