FERC Revamps US Power Grid Planning for Renewable Energy Surge

New Rules to Overhaul Electric Grids Could Boost Wind and Solar Power

Biggest Grid Upgrade in Years

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has approved comprehensive changes to the planning and funding of America’s electric grids. This is seen as a significant step towards the expansion of the nation’s ageing electricity network, which experts have been warning is insufficient to meet future demands. The lack of high-voltage power lines increases the risk of blackouts and hampers the shift towards renewable energy sources.

Long-Term Planning for Grid Expansion

One of the reasons grid expansion has been slow is the lack of long-term planning by operators. The new federal rule now mandates grid operators to project needs 20 years into the future. Factors such as changes in energy mix, the increasing commitments to wind and solar power by various states, and the risks of extreme weather are to be considered.

New Rule Faces Opposition

However, the rule, approved by a 2-1 vote, faced opposition from Republican Mark Christie, who argued that the rule could allow states to pass on the costs of grid upgrades to their neighbors, unfairly benefiting wind and solar developers.

Challenges to Implementing the New Rule

While the new rule is expected to stimulate the construction of new high-voltage power lines and facilitate the connection of more wind and solar energy to the grid, it could face legal challenges from states worried about higher costs. Moreover, the question of who should bear the costs of grid expansion remains a point of contention.

Addressing Cost Sharing Concerns

To address these concerns, the commission has provided guidelines on how to distribute the costs of new transmission projects. Before planning any lines, utilities and grid operators are expected to collaborate with states to develop a cost allocation formula based on the potential benefits from the new lines.

Consideration of New Technologies

The rule also requires utilities and grid operators to consider advanced conductors that might cost more upfront but could make grids more efficient and deliver long-term benefits. This move has been applauded by environmental groups and renewable energy companies.

Remaining Hurdles

Despite the optimism, the rule doesn’t address the logistical and political challenges of constructing new long-distance power lines. Also, speeding up the process might require action from Congress, where lawmakers have struggled to agree on new transmission policies.


The new federal rules, while being a significant step towards revamping America’s electric grid, face numerous hurdles in implementation. However, if successfully implemented, they could potentially boost the adoption of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, propelling the country towards a more sustainable future.