Transmission at a Crossroads

Energy Law Journal, Vol. 21 Issue 2 pp.447

December 2000

By Richard P. Bonnifield and Ronald L. Drewnowski

Transmission has more than a century of history as an essential function of the vertically integrated electric utility.' Weaving together interconnected conductor networks throughout North America, the growth of transmission has helped to bring utilities greater economy and consumers greater reliability.

With the issuance of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC or Commission) Order No. 2000; the electric transmission industry has reached yet another milestone in its evolution and now stands at a crossroads. The more than 140 transmission owners across the country are faced with the questions of whether to form or to join a Regional Transmission Organization (RT0)3 and what are the financial implications of such a course of action. In many areas of the country, utilities must decide which RTO to join, given the multiple and, in many cases, competing RTOs. Transmission owners are also taking a hard look at transmission as a stand-alone business, and asking whether it will survive and prosper over the next five to ten years.

This article examines the evolution of the transmission business- how it started, where it is today, and where it must go to be successful in years ahead. The article identifies the key business drivers, and the actions needed to create a viable and vibrant stand-alone transmission business, which is able to attract the investment and talent needed to fulfill its critical role in the future.

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This article originally appeared in the Energy Law Journal, Volume 21 Issue 2 (2000). The full article can be accessed here.