NRECA has asked federal regulators to modify or go back to the drawing board on a new rule for planning and paying for regional power transmission lines, calling the regulation a “missed opportunity” to ensure the grid can meet the nation’s growing demand for reliable electricity in a way that works for electric cooperatives.

On June 12, NRECA filed a “request for rehearing” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which approved the final rule in mid-May. The rule marks the first time in 13 years that FERC has addressed comprehensive transmission reform.

“NRECA believes that regional transmission planning and cost allocation should focus on the transmission needs of load-serving entities and the consumers they are obligated to serve,” the request states. But the final rule treats these entities, including co-ops, “as just one of many stakeholders.”

In particular, the NRECA filing criticizes the rule for undoing FERC’s long-standing commitment to regional flexibility, which allowed transmission providers to set project selection and cost-allocation regimes based on the needs of their states, local utilities and consumers. The new rule instead sets up nationwide prescriptive requirements for selecting and paying for new transmission and even limits the ability of providers to reconsider whether a project is still needed.

The comments also note that the rule is skewed toward facilitating the transmission needs of specific types of generation, like renewables, meaning the needs of many co-ops and their consumers will be secondary.

“Under the Federal Power Act, FERC is required to facilitate and support bottom-up planning to meet the transmission needs of load-serving entities like co-ops to provide reliable and economical service to consumers,” said Mary Ann Ralls, NRECA senior regulatory affairs director. “It is unfortunate that instead, FERC chose to hardwire nationwide standards that support the transmission needs of certain resources, whereas providing reliable and economical service to consumers at the end of the line got lost in the shuffle.”