Extending the grid to create a market for renewable energy: transmission siting issues and how to resolve them

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Extending the grid to create a market for renewable energy: transmission siting issues and how to resolve them

In energy planning circles, in all sectors of the electric industry, in state utility regulatory commissions, and on Capitol Hill, we’ve heard a lot of discussion over the past year about changing the traditional paradigm surrounding the building of electric transmission in order to extend the country’s electric grid. Recently, the talk has moved into the arena of action. In the U.S. House and Senate, there are numerous bills that propose legislative changes to how we plan and site transmission in America—and how we allocate the cost of it. The Waxman-Markey Climate Change bill, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last year, includes such changes. All of the various bills differ one from the other. One similarity among them all is that the federal government’s role (in the person of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) would be expanded and the states’ role would be reduced.

Why is there a growing consensus for change? What’s wrong with how we’ve always done things? (How have we always done things?) Is there a problem here? What are the proposed changes? What are we trying to accomplish with change? What is the best proposal being put forward? Who likes the changes? Who stands to benefit from the changes? Will there be any losers? Ms. Kelly intends to answer these questions during her presentation. She will also discuss what is likely to happen to the U.S. electric grid if we do not see any legislative change from Congress.

Suedeen G. Kelly is the former Commissioner at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (2003 - 2009). In December 2004, she was confirmed to a second term that expired June 30, 2009. Previously she was a Professor of Law at the University of New Mexico School of Law, where she taught energy law, public utility regulation, administrative law and legislative process. She also worked with the law firm of Modrall, Sperling, Roehl, Harris & Sisk in Albuquerque from 2000 through 2003 and the law firm of Sheehan, Sheehan, and Stelzner from 1992 through 1999. In 2000, Ms. Kelly served as counsel to the California Independent System Operator. In 1999, she worked as a Legislative Aide to U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman.

Prior to joining the faculty of the Law School, Ms. Kelly served as Chair of the New Mexico Public Service Commission, which regulated New Mexico's electric, gas and water utilities. She had been a lawyer in the Office of the New Mexico Attorney General and with the New Mexico firm of Leubben, Hughes & Kelly. She also worked in Washington, DC, for the Natural Resources Defense Council and Ruckelshaus, Beveridge, Fairbanks & Diamond.

Education: University of Rochester, B.A. with Distinction in Chemistry and a J.D. cum laude from Cornell Law School. She is admitted to the bars of New Mexico and the District of Columbia.



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