To advocate efficient, collaborative regional planning and facilities siting processes that ensure beneficial and timely infrastructure investments.
WIRES supports planning transmission expansion and enhancements on an integrated regional basis that takes account of long-term needs and the interests of all stakeholders. In an open access environment, transmission planning processes must be highly transparent and must take a long term view of system conditions. They must provide certainty for investors, maintain reliability, identify efficient solutions to congestion issues, accommodate regional differences, and result in fair, timely, and economical transmission solutions.
The planning process must identify long-term transmission solutions, whether driven by reliability criteria, market efficiency objectives, or the service obligations of load-serving entities. The planning horizon must be long enough to avoid producing sub-optimal plans. The planning process should avoid "just in time transmission" or "catch-up" solutions that simply increase consumer costs, and it should consider future requirements such as the development of new types of advanced generation, generation retirements, the development of low-voltage enhancements by load serving entities and increased generation in non-traditional areas. Non-transmission solutions such as demand response, as well as the siting of new central station and distributed generation, should be taken into account in the planning of transmission solutions.
The early involvement of state and provincial regulators and other agencies or policymakers with jurisdiction or expertise is critical to ensuring that issues which impact local jurisdictions are addressed. The effect of renewable portfolio standards, other generation or demand-side initiatives, cost recovery, inter-state issues, and project needs and alternatives should be considered and resolved. When plans involve serving local load, local transmission providers, LSE’s, and regional sub-groups often have a more direct connection to load serving needs, making solutions more readily available.
Effective transmission planning based on open and transparent procedures will (1) lead to wider recognition and acceptance of the need for expansions and upgrades and (2) thereby support the equitable sharing of the costs of those facilities as well as the timely recovery of those costs in rates. However, without predetermined rules for the allocation and recovery of costs at the federal and state levels, planning alone will not make permitting and constructing new facilities easier to achieve. Regional planning should therefore be underpinned by a framework for cost recovery for all types of projects. Case-by-case determinations introduce delay and uncertainty. Project participants, regulators, and other stakeholders must be able to understand the full economic and environmental impacts of proposed projects as a prerequisite to public support for construction initiatives.