An early-stage collaboration between the Acadia Center and Nergica is intended to bring together communities, tribes, nonprofits, companies, RTOs and government officials from the northeastern U.S. and Canada to increase coordination around interregional transmission.

Dubbed the Northeast Grid Planning Forum (NGPF), the effort is aimed at changing the conversation around transmission planning throughout the broader region to help unlock infrastructure investments, improved planning processes and market changes to help facilitate the clean energy transition.

“If you look out at what states and provinces are trying to achieve with meeting climate goals,” Dan Sosland, president of the Acadia Center, told RTO Insider, “there is a tremendous amount of potential complementary benefits that could be obtained if we step back and look at how the grids might coordinate in a more intentional way.”

“We need to think about the grid in a different way,” Sosland said, adding that transmission infrastructure throughout the Northeast has been developed largely project by project, leading to projects scattered across the map like “a game of pick-up sticks.”

Meanwhile, several studies have found that increased interregional transmission capacity throughout the Northeast could bring cost, reliability and decarbonization benefits to ratepayers.

Notably, the nonprofits behind the effort represent both sides of the border; the Acadia Center is based in New England, while Nergica is based in Québec.

The forum’s organizers say they hope to hold in-person roundtables over the coming fall or winter and have met with different stakeholder groups to plan and gauge interest.

“We’re in Phase 1 of really testing ideas and getting input,” Sosland said. “We will then do an internal assessment in early May about whether there’s enough interest and support to expand this into a larger phase.”

While nothing is set in stone, Sosland and Côté said they’re encouraged by the feedback they’ve received.

“We’re getting really exciting responses to this,” Sosland said. “If things proceed, we want to be very optimistic about the interest in moving this into an actual forum, actual roundtables and actual discussions.”

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