Value of local transmission planning

December 20, 2021
Transmission towers

Charles River Associates (CRA) was engaged by WIRES to produce a report that provides a comprehensive review of the value of local transmission planning. In this report, we define local transmission planning as the “transmission planning process that a public utility transmission provider performs for its individual retail distribution service territory or footprint pursuant to the requirements of Order No. 890”.  The product of the local transmission planning processes is local solutions that are critical to the integrity of the transmission system.

Local projects enable the continued reliable operation of the transmission system by enhancing grid resilience and operational flexibility, addressing transmission asset health and replacing of aging infrastructure.

Similar to local roads, local transmission is valuable to access important services in a reliable manner. Meeting reliability requirements is critical for the operation and design of the local and regional power system and ensure access to affordable and reliable electricity to all consumers. The standards and guidelines developed and enforced by all reliability entities, national and regional, provide a basis for reliable design and operation of the transmission system. However, their generic nature does not fully account for differences between local systems. While meeting the established regional reliability standards, local planners with their extensive system experience, also ensure that the local system is designed to accommodate locational system needs documented in their local reliability procedures. Our comprehensive review of the reliability needs assessment planning of six transmission asset owners within three Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Operators (ISO/RTOs) confirms this complementary nature of local planning.

For the reasons discussed in this report, local transmission planning provides significant benefits and is foundational to the success of the regional planning process. Combining proximity to the local system with important expertise, local planners design cost-efficient transmission solutions that serve their customers while maintaining system integrity.

For a brief overview, see the WIRES/CRA one-page summary of this report.