ITC Holdings Corp. has raised concerns about the lack of needed comprehensive electricity transmission policy reforms included in the American Clean Energy and Security Act (ACES) passed by the U.S. House of Representatives. The company also praised the Senate on its proposal addressing how to plan, build and pay for transmission in this country.
The House bill includes a historic program to control greenhouse gas emissions and a new federal mandate for the use of renewable energy resources, but it has minimal regulatory reforms for transmission. ITC commended efforts by Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) to expand the transmission title of the legislation, but the outcome was a very limited proposal that is far less helpful than its Senate counterpart.
"Chairman Waxman and Rep. Inslee clearly appreciate the critical role transmission plays in facilitating the achievement of the energy policy goals and objectives of the legislation, including the development of renewable, emissions free resources. Unfortunately, they were unable in the limited time available to craft the needed provisions to be included in the bill," said Joseph L. Welch, chairman, president and CEO of ITC.
The House bill does not address the issue of how needed transmission will be paid for, Welch said. While it has provisions related to planning, the measure essentially only serves to codify the disjointed processes that exist today. The House bill attempts to address transmission siting by giving the federal government the ability to step in if states do not site facilities. But the new provision only applies to the Western Interconnection. Superior, high quality wind resources are abundant within the Eastern Interconnection.
"Congress cannot fully achieve the objectives of reducing greenhouses gases set forth in this legislation without significant, additional reforms to the way transmission is planned, sited and paid for," Welch noted.
Welch pointed out that under the current system of balkanized regulatory oversight, it is difficult to develop and implement strategically planned, cross-regional transmission projects. The nation must move beyond parochial concerns and draft policies that meet the nation's energy security and environmental goals. The Senate energy bill has the framework required for Congress to achieve these goals as it moves forward on finalizing legislation, Welch said.
As the nation's first and largest independent transmission company, ITC has a unique perspective on the obstacles to strategically developing new electricity transmission that will help meet the nation's energy goals. A modern transmission grid, including a high-voltage backbone, will increase reliability across the system, allow the country to take full advantage of renewable energy resources and will save the economy billions of dollars each year through access to lower cost power and reduced congestion charges.
"Grid modernization and regional transmission construction are fundamental to a national energy policy," Welch said. "In order for this policy to be effective, it must provide a comprehensive means for addressing current industry challenges."
ITC has long advocated for modernizing America's overburdened electricity grid and recently announced the development of its "Green Power Express," a network of extra high voltage transmission lines that will transport power from wind-abundant areas of the Upper Midwest to Midwestern and Eastern states that demand clean, renewable energy. The Green Power Express will be an integral component to ITC's efforts to create a high voltage backbone that can meet America's renewable energy goals and eliminate costly inefficiencies in the grid.