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FERC is moving to implement GETs. But will it move fast enough?

The commission’s routine multi-year process is at odds with the industry’s widespread calls for urgency.

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Published
June 27, 2024
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Photo credit: Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Photo credit: Jeffrey Greenberg / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Everyone from the Department of Energy to hyperscalers are emphasizing the transformative potential of grid enhancing technologies to help meet the demand for energy created by the intersection of the AI boom, electrification, and onshoring.

And today the Federal Regulatory Commission joined those calls — albeit on a much slower timeline than proponents may hope — announcing an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on the implementation of dynamic line ratings, which use weather condition forecasts to make more accurate ratings of transmission lines.

  • The top line: The proposed framework would require transmission providers to include more detailed solar heating forecasts plus wind speed and direction forecasts in their lines’ ratings. But the requirements, though generally welcomed as a much-needed “stick” to encourage GETs adoption, aren’t likely to be implemented for at least another year, if not more.
  • The nuts and bolts: FERC is now seeking input on a handful of details including methods to measure congestion, whether hourly solar conditions must be considered on an hourly basis, and how to determine which lines would most benefit from wind condition-based ratings.
  • The current take: Outgoing commissioner Allison Clements nodded to the potential impact of GETs while emphasizing the need for “good, thoughtful comments” on what she dubbed a “promising framework” to speed the process along. “We are leaving significant benefits and cost savings on the table for every minute that we fail to deploy and utilize DLRs in our transmission systems,” Clements said in today’s FERC meeting.

The preliminary proposed framework has been “a long time coming,” Clements added.

“We first voted on DLR issues in December 2021,” she said. “That’s nearly three years to move the ball forward several yards with a good amount of the field yet to cover.” 

The pace with which the commission is approaching widespread GETs deployment is somewhat at odds with the way the rest of the energy sector is discussing the technology’s potential. 

White House national climate advisor Ali Zaidi recently described DLR as a tech “that can cook right now,” while DOE has said scaling DLR could unlock up to 30% more grid capacity, for less than $10 billion. And an RMI report found thattech like DLR could save PJM more than $1 billion while easing interconnection backlogs and transmission buildout.

Nonetheless, the commission's move has been met with enthusiasm from many in the industry. The WATT Coalition, an industry group representing GETs providers, said in comments to the commission in June that requiring DLR deployment in specific cases “will lead to many utilities undertaking their first operational deployment.”

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