The NOPR includes proposed changes to both the pro forma Open Access Transmission Tariff and the Large Generator Interconnection Agreement. FERC proposed three basic reforms:

  1. Requiring public utility transmission providers to offer to all transmission customers the option of using intra-hourly transmission scheduling at 15-minute intervals.
  2. Adding a provision into the pro forma Large Generator Interconnection Agreement that provides for interconnection customers whose generating facilities are VERs to submit to transmission providers meteorological and operational data to the extent needed by the transmission provider to develop VER power production forecasting.
  3. Adding a new generic ancillary service rate schedule through which transmission providers will offer generator regulation service to transmission customers delivering energy from a generator located within the transmission provider's balancing authority area. The current OATT contains an ancillary service schedule providing regulation service for load.

Staff stated at a FERC meeting that even though this rulemaking primarily focuses on helping VERs, the proposed changes will help all generation and non-generation resources. By proposing transmission scheduling at 15-minute intervals, FERC seeks to provide greater accuracy in scheduling and, therefore, limit the amount of ancillary services VERs must supply or purchase.

FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff stated that the requirement to provide generator regulation service would allow moment-to-moment balancing, and the transmission owner can recover the cost of this service. This would be an optional service in terms of whether the customer takes it from the transmission owner or otherwise supplies it.

Mr. Wellinghoff noted that as older generation units retire and the nation begins to utilize electric cars, which can be used for storage and ancillary services, the market for variable resources would change. He stated that the proposal is a fair and balanced way to manage the need to integrate VERs and the costs to customers for the operating reserves necessary to balance these resources. Mr. Wellinghoff believes the proposed changes will result in a transmission system that is more efficient and reliable, which will minimize costs to transmission customers.

The other commissioners also echoed support for the proposed rules. Commissioner Philip Moeller noted that the NOPR respects regional differences, but is transformative in adopting the requirement for the intra-hourly scheduling. Commissioner John Norris stated that FERC recognizes the cost of integrating VERs, but that the proposed rule minimizes the costs.

Commissioner Marc Spitzer focused on the NOPR's effects on reducing barriers to entry for VERs, which is good news for ratepayers and the environment. Commissioner Spitzer also noted that FERC is “ahead of the curve” in addressing the technological changes associated with VERs. Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur emphasized that the NOPR reflects the increasing importance of variable energy resources growth.

Comments on the NOPR are due 60 days after publication in the Federal Register.