A new study produced by Concentric finds no basis to expand the scope of transmission grid projects selected through solicitation processes. Incumbent transmission owners develop reasonable project cost estimates while delivering critical infrastructure that provides customers with a reliable and resilient flow of power.
While a limited number of solicitations under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) Order 1000 have been held to date and the final costs of the projects are largely unknown, the Brattle Group (“Brattle”) in a report issued in April 2019 claims that increased solicitations would reduce customer costs. The purported cost savings that would result from expanding solicitations is based in part on Brattle’s assumption that projects developed by incumbent transmission owners – as opposed to those selected through a solicitation – experience significant cost escalations. However, Concentric’s study produced notably different results.
Concentric’s review of publicly available data suggests that incumbent transmission owners experience either no or fairly modest cost changes over the life of a project’s development, with final or updated project cost estimates varying from initial cost estimates by between -2.9% and 7.0% in the regions with publicly available cost tracking databases.
“Claims that incumbent transmission developers have experienced significant cost escalations are inaccurate and overstated – that’s what the broader and more complete data tells us,” said Danielle Powers, Senior Vice President at Concentric. “Solicitations might make sense in some situations, but generally speaking there is no credible support for the claim that current transmission development processes limit customer savings, or that expansion of project solicitations will yield meaningful additional savings.”