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WATT Coalition Incorporates, Grows After Year of Astounding Progress

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Julia Selker's picture
Policy and Business Manager Grid Strategies

Julia Selker is a Policy and Business Manager with Grid Strategies. In this role she coordinates the Future Power Markets Forum and supports communications for the Business Council for...

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  • Mar 11, 2022
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VELCO, Pine Gate Renewables and Invenergy join WATT Coalition

Washington, D.C. - Today the Working for Advanced Transmission Technologies (WATT) Coalition announced its official incorporation as a 501c6 trade association. Three new members joined the coalition: VELCO, Pine Gate Renewables and Invenergy, marking WATT’s expansion to include all participants from the electricity industry who would benefit from more efficient and effective use of the existing grid.  

The Working for Advanced Transmission Technologies (WATT) Coalition advocates for policy that supports wide deployment of Grid-Enhancing Technologies (GETs), to accelerate the clean energy transition and lower energy costs. Dynamic Line Ratings determine the true, real-time capacity of power lines. Advanced Power Flow Control allows operators to reroute power to lines with available capacity. Topology Optimization identifies the best grid reconfigurations to reroute flow around bottlenecks. In operations, these technologies reduce congestion costs and improve economic dispatch, situational awareness and reliability. In planning, they reduce the time, cost and complexity of integrating new generation and load.  

WATT members include its original six members from its start as an ad hoc coalition beginning in the fall of 2017: Ampacimon, LineVision, Lindsey Systems, NewGrid, Smart Wires, and WindSim Power, and since then has been joined by EDF Renewables North America and Heimdall Power, in addition to the members announced today. For examples of GETs applications, see: https://watt-transmission.org/what-are-grid-enhancing-technologies/ 

In 2021, years of demonstration and education led to federal action to align incentives for transmission owners to use GETs, and to fund early deployments. The most significant actions are listed below. On May 23, 2022 the WATT Coalition will host its first Grid Enhancing Technologies Summit in Dallas, Texas

WATT Coalition Chair Ted Bloch-Rubin said “We’ve reached a turning point in the energy transition, where stakeholders across the electricity industry realize we need to use our existing infrastructure more efficiently to accelerate the pace of transformation. The WATT Coalition’s growth will help develop and implement the best policy solutions to more fully utilize America’s grid infrastructure.” 

“Policymakers understand the value of Grid-Enhancing Technologies and are working to get these technologies deployed across the country,” said Rob Gramlich, Executive Director of the WATT Coalition. “Dynamic line ratings, advanced power flow control, and topology optimization are all proven technologies with deployments around the world – with the incentives and regulatory barriers corrected, the United States will catch up soon.” 

Congressional and Federal Agency Action on GETs: 

  • In February 2021, The WATT Coalition released its landmark study of the impacts of GETs on renewable energy integration: Unlocking the Queue with Grid Enhancing Technologies. 
  • In June 2021, Chair Kathy Castor of the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis introduced legislation that would ensure that GETs were included in interconnection studies, because GETs can reduce the cost and time needed to connect new renewable generation to the grid. 
  • In July 2021, FERC announced an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to transmission planning, cost allocation and generator interconnection. Over 90 entities submitted comments supporting the inclusion of Grid Enhancing Technologies in at least one of those processes. 
  • In September 2021, FERC held a technical conference on a shared savings incentive for GETs. Splitting cost-savings from a GETs deployment between ratepayers and cost-of-service regulated transmission owners would support GETs deployments where they add value.  
  • In November 2021, President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, authorizing $3 billion in funding for Smart Grid Investment Grants (SGIGs) and modifying the SGIG language to specifically include DLR, topology optimization, and power flow control. SGIGs would cover up to half the cost of a GETs installation. 
  • In December 2021, FERC announced a new docket on Dynamic Line Ratings as well as Order 881, which mandated Ambient Adjusted Line Ratings and required RTOs and ISOs to accept at least hourly dynamic line ratings in FERC’s first move to modernize line-rating methodologies to increase grid capacity. 

Comments by clean energy industry leaders in support of the WATT Coalition’s incorporation: 

Jeff Dennis, Managing Director and General Counsel, Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) 

“To achieve a 100% clean electricity grid and electrify the nation’s transportation, buildings, and industry, we need a modern, smart, and efficient electricity delivery network. Deploying advanced transmission technologies to increase the capacity of our existing grid and optimize the buildout and operation of the grid of the future is foundational to grid modernization. We look forward to continuing to work with the WATT Coalition in this next phase of its growth as FERC, DOE, and states all emphasize increasing the capacity and efficiency of the grid to support the accelerated development of advanced energy.” 

Gregory Wetstone, CEO, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE): 

“Accelerating our transition to a renewable energy economy necessitates significant investment in our nation’s antiquated transmission infrastructure. Grid enhancing technologies will play a major role in our efforts to upgrade the power grid by increasing the capacity and reliability of transmission. ACORE is proud to work with the WATT Coalition to advocate for policy solutions that increase the adoption of these crucial technologies.” 

Gizelle Wray, Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA): 

“The U.S. electricity mix is changing faster than our grid infrastructure can accommodate, and that’s holding back our clean energy transition. Smart policy moves can help us modernize the grid and invest in new technologies that can quickly and cost effectively deploy more solar and storage projects. We look forward to continuing our work with the WATT Coalition as we tackle some of the biggest challenges ahead in the Solar+ Decade.” 

John Moore, Director, Sustainable FERC Project: 

“Advanced grid technologies are truly the low-hanging fruit that can dramatically improve the operation of our power grid. Policy needs to catch up with the science and technology, and the WATT Coalition will be critical to making a more reliable and efficient grid a reality.”   

Lisa Jacobson, President, Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE): 

“Optimizing our existing transmission grid infrastructure to utilize its full capacity will prevent unnecessary costs and investment, leading to lower prices for consumers and faster deployment of new clean energy resources. BCSE is glad to see so much action to advance the use of Grid Enhancing Technologies, and looks forward to working with the growing WATT Coalition.” 

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