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Jan 19, 2010 - Bill Opalka - renewablesbiz

wind power
After nearly two years of speeches, announcements and attention from all parts of the energy and other media, oilman and wind power booster T. Boone Pickens last week shelved his plans for a massive wind-power project in Texas when he cut his order for GE turbines in half, from 667 units to 333. So I asked a transmission group what it would take to get projects like Pickens and others moving again. After all, large, sometimes multi-state transmission projects are what's needed to deliver energy from massive wind farms to load centers. Naturally, we focused on a discussion of pending federal energy legislation and regulations, which will also be considered at the EnergyBiz Leadership Forum.

"I think in any energy bill there has to be linked to some role for regional planning in concert with FERC or coordinated on a regional basis,' said Paul McCoy, president of WIRES  (Working group for Investment in Reliable and Economic electric Systems). "Of course, we don't want to prevent any promising discussions that are already in progress from going forward by any federal changes," he added.

WIRES has asked FERC to address the cost allocation through a "rule-making" procedure. In a petition filed last fall, the group said, "exclusive reliance on informal, consensus-oriented processes in the absence of any national or even interconnection-wide policy guidance" produces anomalies that are unfair and offer companies and utilities little guidance on future projects. 

Interestingly, McCoy thinks the third leg on the transmission stool - siting - would be taken care of if the first two are solved. He thinks if all parties are at the table to discuss planning and costs through the entire process, siting vetoes by individual states would be less likely to occur.