NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- A more integrated national electricity market, with more renewable energy, can be expected thanks to the U.S. Court of Appeals' ruling on an obscure federal rule called Order 1000.
The decision will, in time, benefit companies such as NRG Energy (NRG) that seek to sell renewable power across state lines, and disadvantage those such as Southern Co. (SO) , which is seeking to tie consumers to coal and nuclear sources it produces.
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The Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy (CFTP), of which Southern Co. is a member, was hopping mad over the decision, which involves rules about how new electric transmission lines are planned and paid for. So was the Institute for Energy Research, which is partly funded by Koch Industries and other fossil fuel interests.
Environmental and renewable energy groups such as Earthjustice and the American Wind Energy Association, on the other hand, were pleased by the decision.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission had ruled in 2011, with its Order 1000, that state planning for new electric transmission lines must consider the renewable energy targets and supplies of neighboring states. States whose utilities control regulators and resist renewables still have to pay to accept the power.
Over the last five years shares of utilities that depend on coal, nuclear fuel and compliant state regulators (utilities such as DTE Energy (DTE) , and CMS Energy (CMS) ) have outperformed other utility stocks, especially those like Pacific Gas & Electric (PCG) that have been accepting lots of new solar and wind power.