The average US customer is paying only 7% of their electricity bill to cover transmission investment, John Jimison of the Energy Future Coalition told Breaking Energy in this video from the US Association for Energy Economics Conference in Washington, DC.

As regulators move to address a “decades-long under-investment in transmission,” a number of incumbent utilities are opposing the approach the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has taken in one of its most recent orders, widely known as FERC 1000.

For a simple-language version of the complex FERC order issued by the Commission, read here.

As the US has become progressively more dependent on growing electricity supply, FERC has taken “a series of major regulatory steps going back to the 90s,” Jimison said, with FERC 1000 just the latest.

Transmission is by its nature regional, Jimison told us, and the process needs to reflect that while taking the manifold stakeholder positions into account. That represents a shift in decision-making authority away from many of the major utilities, who traditionally often made decisions about transmission investment in-house.

The debate is now moving out of FERC’s calm hearing rooms and into the spotlight of Capitol Hill. Senators Bob Corker and Ron Wyden have proposed a bill that would require detailed cost-benefit analysis and cost allocation for each piece of a transmission project, a move that Jimison said asks the impossible. The bill is a “smokescreen” that hinders development of renewable energy projects by de facto denying them transmission access, he said.

Watch this video for an excellent summary on where the debate over transmission planning stands today. For more of Breaking Energy’s comprehensive coverage of the USAEE Conference, click here.