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E&E News: FERC Urged to Protect Grid from EV Boom

Posted by Miranda Willson on May 3, 2021

E&E News outlined proceedings from a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission conference on electric vehicles, quoting AEE’s Jeff Dennis on how the commission can prepare. Read snippets below and the full story here.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission needs to prepare for a surge in electric vehicles that could transform the nation's power grid and increase electricity demand and costs.

That was a chief message from more than 30 panelists last week to FERC during a conference on the electrification of vehicles, buildings and other sectors of the economy.

State and local energy officials, researchers, utility executives and others discussed the transmission infrastructure that could be needed as people switch to electric cars and heating, the benefits and costs that might arise in the transition, and how FERC — an independent agency that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity — should support state and local policymakers on the issue…

The event came as the Biden administration is seeking to garner support for its American Jobs Plan, a sweeping infrastructure package that would allocate $174 billion to electric vehicles. The plan also proposes building, preserving and retrofitting over a million energy-efficient and "electrified" housing units and using the federal government's buying power to procure clean energy technologies such as electric heat pumps.

In the past several years, some states and cities have also taken steps to encourage people to adopt EVs and build electrified housing units, which panelists said have set the stage for a more widespread transition…

But electrification of buildings, heating, cars and buses could also strain the electric grid and create reliability challenges if not properly planned for, panelists said.

Some analyses estimate that electricity demand and capacity needs could double by 2050 in some regions of the country as electrification occurs, said Jeff Dennis, general counsel and managing director of the clean energy trade and business group Advanced Energy Economy. As more people adopt EVs and electric heating, that could shift power demand to different times of day or seasons, depending on when people charge their cars or heat their homes.

To meet those challenges, the transmission and distribution infrastructure that transports power to homes and businesses will need to be upgraded and expanded, panelists said. FERC could help streamline and modernize the processes for building new high-voltage transmission lines — something Glick has expressed an interest in doing — and encourage efficiency improvements to reduce the amount of power that is lost in transit, attendees said...

Others urged the commission to primarily focus on the infrastructure that needs to be built, rather than who should pay for it...

The commissioners' questions about transmission needs hinted that they might revisit FERC Order No. 1000, Dennis of Advanced Energy Economy told E&E News. The 2011 order modified the transmission planning process, but some analysts say it didn't go far enough in encouraging high-voltage power lines.

"[The] future demands of electrification is likely to be a key data point in their future policy efforts there," Dennis said in an email.

Read the full story here.

Topics: Wholesale Markets, AEE In The News