Making the Grid Greener and Smarter with Virtual Transmission Lines

Former FERC Chairman and Center for Renewables Integration team up to break down barriers barring Distributed Energy Resource technologies from participating in ISO/RTO transmission planning.

Press Release ( - ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Sep 27, 2017 - The Center for Renewables Integration (CRI) and former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chairman Jon Wellinghoff have teamed up on a project to enable the use of Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) technologies as transmission assets, thereby greening, “right sizing,” and increasing reliability of the electricity grid. CRI and Wellinghoff ‘s company, Policy/DER, will use the legal precedent created by federal legislation and regulation to develop a “bid roadmap” as a probably industry standard. Organizations will be able to use the roadmap to bid a portfolio of aggregated DER assets, such as solar, energy storage, and dispatchable load control, as Virtual Transmission Lines.

“FERC Orders 890 and 1000 requires Independent System Operators (ISOs) to treat alternative transmission solutions, such as an aggregated portfolio of DER assets, comparably to new transmission,” said Wellinghoff. “Although Order 1000 was issued in 2011, no DER assets have yet won a competitive transmission contract. A lot of transmission is built in order to reduce congestion or improve reliability, and portfolios of DER assets should be performing that function. DERs technologies are underutilized and it is time that they be operated and compensated as strategic energy sources.”

This project is primarily funded by The Energy Foundation. The CRI team is actively seeking additional partners to further expand the scope and potential of this effort. The team appreciates that private companies, such as TerreVerde Renewable Partners, are recognizing the importance of this effort and quickly stepping up to provide additional funding.

The project is divided into two initial phases. In the first, the team will dive into the legal precedent created by federal legislation and regulation, and examine the compliance plans submitted by selected ISOs. In the second, the team will develop its “Bid Roadmap” designed to provide the guidance needed to submit a winning bid. DER development companies, Community Choice Aggregators, or any organization able to become a transmission owner, can use the roadmap. The team plans to work extensively with California ISO and the California Public Utilities Commission during this phase to ensure a DER portfolio can compete with transmission projects.

“While this work is applicable in any ISO/RTO, we are going to start in California, given the state’s sustained focus on renewables and their ymedw 1.3 gigawatt mandate for energy storage,” said CRI’s President of the Board, Kerinia Cusick. “Projects around the country have shown that aggregated DER can be used as an alternative to distribution upgrades. If we ignore the full capability of distributed resources being added in businesses and homes, we will overbuild the electricity grid, leading to unnecessary costs. FERC Order 1000 provides the regulatory framework. Technology has proven its capability. It’s time to link these two elements and provide more resiliency and greening of our electricity grid.”


Policy/DER was started by Jon Wellinghoff in the spring of 2017, and is focused on performing policy work to enable distributed energy resources. As the FERC Chairman when Order 1000 was developed, Jon has unique insight into to the Order, its history and intent.

Center for Renewables Integration (CRI) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit clean energy think tank founded by three energy industry experts: Kerinia Cusick, Jeanne Fox and Harry Warren. CRI works with state policy makers to support the development of effective energy policy which enables high percentage of renewable generation, while maintaining reliability, at the lowest cost. For more information, visit

Energy Foundation was launched in 1991 by three leading foundation who decided it was time for philanthropy to help the world meet its energy challenges. Energy Foundation mission is to promote the transition to a sustainable energy future by advancing energy efficiency and renewable energy. For more information, visit

TerraVerde Renewable Partners is an independent energy advisor representing school districts, public agencies, and commercial enterprises.

Source : Center for Renewables Integration


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