As we seek to build the grid of the future, discussions and debate about improving transmission planning has become a central topic, with an emphasis on regional and interregional transmission planning. With this new report from Charles River Associates (CRA), WIRES adds to the conversation an important new resource demonstrating the value of local transmission planning. The report finds that local transmission planning is critical to regional planning as it ensures foundational system needs are met, but that it importantly follows a different approach.
By way of analogy, within our national road network, local roads and off-ramps are equally important as interstate highways in providing transportation access. The same holds true within our grid system with local transmission ensuring energy transfer services in a reliable manner.
While the regional planning process complies with reliability, economic criteria, and public policy initiatives, it fails to address additional system needs related to resiliency, interconnecting customers, integrating distributed resources, and replacing aging infrastructure among others that are the primary focus of local planning. Moreover, as more regional transmission gets built, it will only increase the need for additional local transmission infrastructure.
The report contains a comprehensive review of the reliability needs assessment planning of six transmission asset owners within three Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Operators (ISO/RTOs) that confirms this complementary nature of local planning. In the ISO/RTOs reviewed, the local solutions are incorporated into the regional plan to produce a framework that captures the entire spectrum of the transmission investment benefits.