Publications

    Gavan, John C., and Rob Gramlich. John C. Gavan and Rob Gramlich - A New State-Federal Cooperation Agenda for Regional and Interregional Transmission, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract

    Excerpt from the Introduction:

    The experience of grid operators and planners in the United States and around the world has shown that both decarbonization and power system resilience will require large-scale regional and inter-regional trans- mission expansion. In the United States, transmission planning, cost recovery, and siting are all subject to both state and federal jurisdiction. To meet the challenge of expanding transmission to implement decarbonization, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) recently announced the Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission to focus on this issue.1 Resolving issues of siting and cost recovery for interstate electric transmission lines will encourage constructive state-federal cooperation. The task force and related regional and national coordination among the states, FERC, the Department of Energy (DOE), and federally regulated transmission providers will be critical to ensuring a resilient and clean power system.

    Brown, Ashley, and Jim Rossi. “SITING TRANSMISSION LINES IN A CHANGED MILIEU: EVOLVING NOTIONS OF THE “PUBLIC INTEREST” IN BALANCING STATE AND REGIONAL CONSIDERATIONS.” In, 2008.Abstract

    Excerpt from the Introduction:

    The paper proceeds in four parts. Part I, of course, is the Introduction and Background. Part II describes the existing arrangements in the States of Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming for siting new transmission lines, and the coexistence of those arrangements with a conventional understanding of the public interest in determining need and addressing environmental concerns under traditional state siting laws affecting transmission. Part III discusses transmission issues related to the competitive wholesale market and increased attention to climate change and highlights how federal law has expanded to accommodate some of these concerns. Part IV emphasizes the need for a new definition of the public interest which might better reflect these new market circumstances and opportunities, and highlights the two main barriers to this: 1) legislative and/or regulatory inertia and 2) an outdated cost-allocation model. The public interest under most state siting statutes is sufficiently capacious to give regulators some flexibility to evolve, but in other instances legislative action may be needed. In addition, the state cost-of-service ratemaking model must evolve to a more regional approach to allocating the costs of new transmission.

    Brown, Ashley, and Susan Kaplan. “Retail and Wholesale Transmission Pricing: A Troublesome Divergence.” In, 1999.Abstract

    The difference between the pricing of transmission services for retail customers and the
    pricing for wholesale customers could hardly be more striking.. Retail customers still pay
    for transmission in exactly the same way that they have done for generations, namely through bundled retail rates. There are no unbundled retail transmission tariffs as such. Rates are based on the classic, time-honored methodology of cost of service regulation, namely capital investment minus depreciation times rate of return, plus expenses. The rate is then adjusted to account for customer class differences.

    With one or two possible exceptions related to future transmission services, wholesale
    customers generally pay, or at least have the option to choose to pay, an unbundled,
    transmission-specific rate and then choose their supplier from the marketplace. The
    transmission price will at least reflect the discrete costs of providing transmission-specific
    services or, depending on the pricing system employed in the locality the service is being
    rendered, may well be reflective of all costs actually being incurred on the system, including
    congestion costs. In short, transmission-specific price signals are, with a few possible
    exceptions, given solely to wholesale customers. They are not conveyed to retail customers
    either directly or indirectly.


    Brown, Ashley. “Changes in the Electricity Industry Since the Passage of the Energy Policy Act of 1992.” In, 1994.Abstract

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    The passage of the Energy Policy Act in 1992 ushered in a new competitive era in the U.S. electricity industry. The task ahead for both state and federal regulators is to make the regulatory changes that are a necessary part of these changes in the industry in a coherent fashion.

    • There is no way to achieve coherence in transmission policy without formal cooperation between federal and state regulators. Congress should urge these regulatory bodies to begin this process, in order to address issues of transmission pricing, unbundling of services, siting, access, and planning.
    • Who should bear the risks of a transition to a more competitive industry? This is clearly a question of policy, and should be treated as such. As a matter of policy, the jurisdiction which is responsible for creating stranded assets should be the one which deals with its consequences. I applaud the California and Michigan commissions for dealing with this issue explicitly as part of their proposals. The FERC has done the same in its recent NOPR, but has left unclear the issue of possible preemption of state jurisdiction.
    • Registered holding companies are currently shielded from competition by the ability to pick the regulatory forum to which they turn for decisions, and by judicial determinations which insulate self-dealing from market forces. The proposed "fix" to the Ohio Power case, now before the Congress, is a step in the right direction. However, there are still gaps and overlaps between federal and state jurisdictions that need to be addressed. In order to supervise transactions involving registered holding companies, the FERC and state PUCs need to work together. If the Congress is unwilling to codify the Pike County doctrine, it should urge the FERC to adopt it explicitly as a formal doctrine of regulatory federalism, andmake rulings that are consistent with multiple layers of jurisdiction.

    The Congress must encourage the FERC and the state commissions to exercise statesmanship on these issues, rather than continuing to engage in bureaucratic turf battles.