Transmission planning and pricing

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Rapidly changing technology and new public policies, along with complex siting and permitting processes, are making transmission planning and development increasingly challenging. The growing share of renewable generation has resulted in new transmission developments to bring remote renewable resources to load pockets, while FERC Order 1000 has focused attention on the need for inter-regional cooperation and “policy-driven” transmission lines. Further, the emergence of solar PV, energy storage, and other distributed energy resources is affecting the timing and location of transmission investment needs.

E3 supports transmission owners and developers by providing current assessments of the market dynamics that drive transmission needs, including the potential for non-wires alternatives. We support clients through the entire planning process, frequently serving as expert witnesses in regulatory cases involving transmission siting and tariff administration.

Our transmission planning and pricing services include:

  • Transmission needs assessment
  • Assessment of non-wires alternatives
  • Open Access Transmission Tariff support
  • Transmission and ancillary services rate design
  • Development of cost-allocation mechanisms
  • FERC Order 1000 support
  • Economic benefits assessment
  • Reliability/loss-of-load probability modeling
  • Production simulation and optimal dispatch modeling
  • Renewable grid integration studies
  • Distributed energy resource adoption forecasts
  • Custom forward-market price projections
  • Regulatory support and expert testimony


Transmission planning and pricing projects

Resource assessment, economic benefit analysis, and expert testimony | Sunrise Powerlink, 2007–10

E3 Managing Partner Ren Orans provided expert testimony on behalf of the California ISO in San Diego Gas & Electric Company’s successful application to build the Sunrise Powerlink, a 500 kV transmission line that delivers renewable energy from the Salton Sea and Imperial Valley areas to San Diego. Our analyses demonstrated both the need for the proposed line and a net economic benefit. We performed a resource assessment and created a supply curve, including transmission costs, for each major renewable energy basin in the Western Electric Coordinating Council region. We quantified benefits in generation cost savings from reduced economic congestion across the region, reliability improvement and capacity market savings from increased firm-transfer capability into the San Diego area, and renewable procurement savings from improved access to low-cost renewable resources. Energized in June 2012, Sunrise helped prevent blackouts that summer by allowing replacement power to flow from Arizona when wildfires in the San Diego area shut down local infrastructure.

Ratepayer benefit analysis | Delaney to Colorado River transmission line, 2012–14

E3 helped Berkshire Hathaway Transmission and Pinnacle West win approval from the board of the California ISO (CAISO) for a new 500 kV transmission project linking Arizona and Southern California. The Delaney to Colorado River (DCR) transmission line was the first economically driven transmission project approved by CAISO: Using CAISO’s Transmission Economic Assessment Methodology, E3 projected ratepayer benefits of $20 million to $30 million per year. E3 worked with CAISO staff to implement the correct network topology and provided information to help ensure that the CAISO’s GridView case included planned infrastructure additions needed for compliance with California’s clean energy policy. E3 also developed an approach for estimating capital cost savings based on the deferral of generation investments allowed by the DCR line; CAISO has adopted this approach in evaluating all future transmission projects.

Non-wires alternatives in transmission planning | Bonneville Power Administration, 2001–present

In 2001, E3 helped Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) develop a groundbreaking transmission planning process in which we considered non-wires alternatives—energy efficiency, demand response, and distributed generation—alongside conventional investments. BPA was one of the first major transmission providers in North America to use an economic screening for every potential bulk transmission investment. Since then, we have studied non-wires alternatives for other BPA project proposals, including the Hooper Springs line in southeastern Idaho and the 500 kV I-5 corridor reinforcement project in Washington. For the latter, E3 evaluated deferral options, including energy efficiency and demand response, as well as redispatch of generators. BPA is evaluating proposals for implementation of the redispatch option, with potential savings of up to $750 million for its customers.


Transmission planning support, strategy, and financial analysis | TransCanyon, 2014–present

Since 2014, E3 has supported TransCanyon, a joint venture between Berkshire Hathaway and Pinnacle West, in developing high-voltage transmission in the Western Interconnection. We provide strategic advice and analysis for investment opportunities, help curate and prioritize TransCanyon’s project portfolio, and articulate how electricity sector policies will impact its transmission development business throughout the western U.S. E3 draws on the knowledge base within all our practice areas and our most recent pricing forecasts to provide insights on TransCanyon’s investment outlook.