Grid Governance: The Role of a National Network Coordinator

54 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2017

See all articles by Ashira Pelman Ostrow

Ashira Pelman Ostrow

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law

Date Written: 2014


Mounting concerns over the security and reliability of the grid have prompted many to question the grid’s state-centered regulatory framework. Today, the federal government regulates interstate transmission, while the states exercise exclusive authority over intrastate distribution, generation, and transmission siting. In an interconnected system, however, each state’s energy policies and infrastructure investments inevitably affect operations and costs throughout the entire network. The ongoing physical, financial, and technological integration of the interstate electric power network portends a growing federal role in coordinating intrastate infrastructure policy.

This Article conceptualizes the federal role in grid governance as that of a “National Network Coordinator.” The Article illustrates the coordination model with respect to federal policies establishing national transmission reliability standards and siting interstate transmission lines. The coordination model rationalizes an expansion of federal authority, but also provides a principle to limit that expansion. Federal authority need not preclude state regulation that supplements or enhances the federal standards. If federal authority is used to coordinate — rather than replace — state regulation, much of the value of state autonomy is preserved.

Keywords: Energy, Electricity, Federalism, Electric Power, Power Grid

JEL Classification: K32, K23

Suggested Citation

Ostrow, Ashira Pelman, Grid Governance: The Role of a National Network Coordinator (2014). 35 Cardozo L. Rev. 1993 (2014), Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2017-14, Available at SSRN:

Ashira Pelman Ostrow (Contact Author)

Hofstra University - Maurice A. Deane School of Law ( email )

121 Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
United States

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