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Transmission Policy in the United States

Paul L. Joskow

Utilities Policy, Vol. 13, pp. 95-115, (2005).

Paul L. Joskow, Utilities Policy, Vol. 13, pp. 95-115, (2005).

This paper provides an overview of the development of electric power transmission access, pricing and investment policies in the US over the last 15 years and evaluates the current state of those policies. Pre-liberalization transmission access and pricing policies are reviewed first since more recent policies have evolved from them. FERC's efforts to ensure that transmission owning utilities provide non-discriminatory access and pricing to wholesale transmission customers, culminating in Order 888 and 889 are discussed. These rules did not respond to problems created by a highly balkanized transmission system and only partially responded to problems caused by common ownership and operation of transmission networks with generating and marketing businesses in the same regions. These problems motivated FERC to seek to create Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO) meeting a long list of criteria related to governance, network operations, transmission pricing and investment as reflected in Order 2000. The slow pace of "voluntary" reform following Order 2000 led FERC to issue a proposed Standard Market Design Rule (SMD) which provided more detailed prescriptions for wholesale market design, network operations, regional planning, resource adequacy, and transmission investment. The SMD rule confronted enormous resistance from groups of utilities and states that had not embraced an electricity sector liberalization agenda. However, many of the provisions of the SMD are being implemented by the RTOs and ISOs in the Northeast and Midwest. PJM's market rules and transmission pricing, planning and investment policies are reviewed as an articulation of FERC's RTO and SMD visions.

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