(Adds additional detail, comment from plaintiff, environmental
By Ros Krasny
WASHINGTON Aug 15 A U.S. court on Friday upheld
rules from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission calling on
utilities to take various actions, including increased planning
of large transmission projects.
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit affirmed FERC's "Order 1000," a series of measures from
2011 that requires large-scale regional planning of the nation's
electric grid designed in part to create greater access to
The case addressed whether states could be forced to
coordinate on transmission planning, carbon standards and paying
for actions to create new transmission capacity.
"The Commission reasonably determined that regional planning
must include consideration of transmission needs driven by
public policy requirements," the three-judge panel wrote in a
97-page unanimous ruling.
Among those challenging FERC's July 2011 order were dozens
of state regulatory agencies, public and private utilities,
regional transmission organizations and electric industry trade
Opponents bristled at being forced to coordinate on
transmission planning, arguing that Congress had "expressly"
allowed such coordination among utilities to be voluntary.
They also opposed the costs involved, which would be a
departure from the usual process of passing costs onto
"Petitioners raise three challenges to the orders'
requirement that regions establish procedures that account for
the impact that federal, state, and local laws and regulations
(i.e., public policy requirements) will have on transmission
systems. None is persuasive," the court said in its ruling.
One of groups that opposed FERC 1000, the Coalition for Fair
Transmission Policy, said it was considering whether to pursue
further legal action and also called on lawmakers to respond.
"This decision provides added impetus for Congress to assist
energy consumers by addressing national transmission policy and
the future of the nation's electricity grid," the coalition,
whose members include Southern Co. and DTE Energy
said in an emailed statement.
Environmental groups praise the outcome as a win for clean
"FERC 1000 is the key to unlocking efficiencies that have
the potential to incorporate more clean energy solutions in the
planning process, which will result in low-cost electricity and
clean air," said John Finnigan, lead counsel with the
Environmental Defense Fund.
Order 1000 is especially important for regions without
regional electricity markets, like the Southeast and most of the
West, said John Moore of the National Resources Defense Council.
"Until recently, these regions had very little in the way of
meaningful regional planning, with little transparency or
stakeholder involvement. Each utility mostly did its own local
planning," Moore wrote in a blog post lauding FERC'S
"commonsense approach" to transmission planning.
The case is South Carolina Public Service Authority, et al,
v FERC, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia
Circuit, No. 12-1232.
(Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Susan Heavey and Sandra