Washington, D.C. (April 21, 2022) —During their April 21st Open Meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unveiled a comprehensive Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) aimed at reforming its regional transmission planning and cost allocation policies and processes. With a 4-1 vote, FERC moved ahead with the proposed rule-making process. Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG), a diverse coalition of business, labor, consumer, utility, environmental, and other groups that support effective transmission development, applauds FERC for taking the first major steps in over a decade to institute policies that support proactive transmission planning and development and increased transparency on the same.
The NOPR stems from FERC’s July 2021 Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) proceeding in which 174 organizations across a multitude of sectors—including state legislatures, energy offices, utility commissions, and consumer advocates; utilities; labor unions; and agricultural, rural, clean energy, commercial, industrial, environmental, and public interest organizations—filed comments supporting proactive planning.
In the last decade, regionally planned transmission investment decreased by 50 percent and almost no new interregional lines have been planned. Addressing the major policy roadblocks to planning and paying for new transmission lines is critical to the development of a modern and resilient clean energy grid. Action on this issue was supported by 9 former FERC chairs from both parties back to 1993.
ACEG’s Executive Director, Rob Gramlich, states that “We are thrilled to see action on the most important energy issue of our time: expanding the interstate transmission network. It seems obvious that we should be planning for future generation and load, but the rules need to change to make that happen. With 174 parties and 59 consumer organizations in the ANOPR proceeding supporting proactive planning, there is very broad and deep support for the general thrust of FERC’s action. We look forward to reading the specific proposed rules and participating in the rulemaking process.”
An expanded and modernized grid can provide economic relief by cutting electricity costs for consumers and spurring high-quality job creation, especially in low-income rural communities. A 2020 study revealed that expanding and modernizing the transmission grid would unleash more than 6 million net new renewable energy and transmission jobs in the Eastern US alone, and predicted similar results in the Western half of the country.
“Addressing the roadblocks to transmission expansion and the development of a modernized grid will create high-quality jobs across the nation. Transmission projects hold great potential for job creation—from planning, engineering, and logistics to construction, manufacturing, operations, and maintenance. The BlueGreen Alliance applauds this first step from FERC, which will increase the deployment of clean energy through new and upgraded transmission deployment while delivering a cleaner environment and good paying union jobs across the country.” — Jason Walsh, Executive Director of BlueGreen Alliance
“Addressing the roadblocks to transmission expansion and the development of a modernized grid will drive job creation for high-quality jobs, because almost all transmission work—construction, O&M work, transmission planning, engineering, logistics— is domestic. We remain confident that transmission will benefit the IBEW and the communities we live in across the country with good paying, union jobs.” — Bob Dean, Business Manager, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) 1245
Large-scale transmission, combined with large-scale buildout of renewable energy, is estimated to lead to $100 billion in savings cumulatively, saving a typical household more than $300 per year. Under a national macro grid, over 80 percent of the power system’s electricity can be supplied with renewable energy at a cost equal to or lower than today’s energy costs. Further, transmission makes the electricity market more competitive and increases the market influence of consumers. In 2021 alone, voluntary energy customers contracted for 11.06 GW of clean energy—the equivalent of 40% of all new carbon-free capacity installed that year.
“Improved and accelerated transmission planning will enable energy customers to access clean energy to meet and scale ambitious climate and sustainability commitments,” said Miranda Ballentine, CEO of the Clean Energy Buyers Association. “Integrated, well-planned transmission expansion also plays a critical role in decarbonizing the grid for all customers at lower cost.”
Adequate reforms to transmission policy could unlock access for much of the 1,300 gigawatts (GW) of wind, solar, and energy storage capacity that are waiting in interconnection queues today. This energy would not only benefit communities with cleaner air, energy cost savings, and emissions reductions, but would also improve the reliability of the electric system. Well-planned transmission expansion would allow variable resources, like wind and solar, to move across regions to ensure demand is met in all hours at all locations and make targeted attacks on the grid more difficult to execute.
“A 21st century economy needs a 21st century grid, and FERC’s new rulemaking on transmission is a long-overdue step in the right direction. This proposed rule addresses the need for long-term transmission planning that accounts for the grid of the future, which is vital for improving system resilience, keeping costs low for consumers, and delivering the clean power that Americans deserve. ACORE also strongly supports the inclusion of grid-enhancing technologies within such planning efforts. ACORE urges the Commission to expeditiously finalize this rule and initiate additional rulemaking procedures to help upgrade our transmission infrastructure and move the country forward on its path to a clean energy future.”— Gregory Wetstone, American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) President and CEO
“This proposal would provide the catalyst to deliver the upgrade our electricity grid desperately needs,” said John Moore, the Director of the Sustainable FERC Project at Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). “Paired with much-needed investments from Congress, it would help get new wind and solar power connected to the grid throughout the heart of the nation, while making the entire electricity system more resilient to climate-fueled hurricanes, floods and heat waves.”
“America’s electric grid requires more reliable transmission planning to help meet consumer demands for increasingly resilient, sustainable, and affordable electricity to power American communities and businesses while withstanding potential risk from natural events, systemic failures, cyberattacks, and other disruptions. FERC has a key role in advancing proactive reforms for transmission planning that will incentivize investment to meet America’s growing desire to electrify our economy while becoming more energy resilient.” — Debra Phillips, President and CEO of the National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA)
“FERC is to be commended for initiating a rulemaking on transmission during a time when energy independence is increasingly significant and natural- and human-caused physical and cyber threats to the electric system are ever-present and growing. The concerns from a national security perspective are consequential and it is vital that our energy infrastructure remains resilient to any unexpected developments. Although more needs to be done to expand and enhance the transmission system to enable higher levels of reliability and security through interregional interconnection, I am pleased that FERC is undertaking regulatory proceedings to address these challenges now. We need our power delivery infrastructure to be always mission-ready.” — Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, former ACORE President
“The lack of transmission to renewable-rich areas and significant delays in the interconnection queue process are negatively impacting efforts at decarbonization, reliability, and consumer costs. Today’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from FERC is a meaningful step toward resolving these issues. Enel looks forward to engaging with the Commission to get a rule finalized.”— Enrico Viale, Head of Enel North America
“A resilient national grid requires more transmission to withstand damage from natural events, systemic failures, cyberattacks, and other stressors and disruptions. FERC has a key role in advancing proactive generator interconnection and transmission planning reforms, including compensable reliability products or services for HVDC interregional transmission that will accelerate positive transmission investment to meet our changing electricity demand and resiliency objectives.” — Shashank Sane, EVP of Transmission, Invenergy
About Americans for a Clean Energy Grid:
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) is a non-profit, broad-based public interest advocacy coalition focused on the need to expand, integrate, and modernize the North American high-voltage grid. ACEG brings together the diverse support for an expanded and modernized grid from business, labor, consumer, environmental groups, and other transmission supporters to support policy that recognizes the benefits of a robust transmission grid. For more information, please visit cleanenergygrid.org
Media Contact: Sabreen Ahmed, Communications Associate
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