Press Release

Transmission Rules to Boost Clean Energy Transition, Cut Costs, and Enhance Climate Resilience

FERC's historic rulemaking on transmission its largest in more than a decade

Washington DC – The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today issued its final rules on regional transmission planning and cost allocation, laying out a path toward a clean energy transition. The rules aim to improve the energy grid’s resilience while reducing costs for ratepayers; their smart approach to land-use planning will also benefit wildlife and conservation efforts.

FERC’s transmission planning and cost allocation rule will help to modernize and expand the electrical grid to meet our increasing energy demands with clean energy, while ensuring that costs for new transmission capacity are fairly distributed among states benefiting from these improvements. The Commission’s second rule revises existing regulations to create an avenue to federal permitting of transmission lines, a role that has historically resided with state authority.

The rules will require transmission developers to consider proven and cost-effective grid-enhancing technologies (GETs) to ensure grid operators can maximize the existing grid before building new infrastructure. Under these rules, transmission planning must extend at least 20 years into the future to identify long-term needs. Transmission planners must consider seven benefits, including reliability, cost savings, and reduced congestion. The seven required benefits ensure that the decisions by regulators are fair and based on a standard analysis among all regions. The rules will also foster collaboration among states in allocating costs, ensuring that only benefiting states contribute, and empowers them to lead planning and financing transmission facilities.

According to a study from the Department of Energy, the United States must double its existing regional transmission capacity to meet its clean energy goals by 2035.

ELPC submitted joint comments as part of the Conservation and Renewable Energy (CARE) coalition in response to FERC’s notice of proposed rulemaking, emphasizing the need for a strong, clear rule that responsibly addresses environmental and energy justice planning, GETs, and siting criteria. Statements from CARE coalition members are included below.

Nick Wallace, Associate Attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center said:

“FERC’s ambitious rewrite of its transmission planning rules aims to achieve widespread, cost-effective delivery of clean electricity to ensure we maintain grid reliability while reducing carbon emissions and air pollution. The rules will favor a ‘smart from the start’ approach that will accelerate transmission build-out by avoiding land use conflicts. Critically, the rule’s support for grid-enhancing technologies (GETs) ensures the optimization of existing transmission lines that will reduce costs for electricity users while enabling more renewable energy to come online faster.”

Veronica Ung-Kono, Staff Attorney Clean Energy Transmission Policy Specialist, National Wildlife Federation, said:

“As laid out in NWF’s Clean Energy Transmission Policy Platform, a resilient and well-planned electrical grid is critical to ensuring we can transition to clean energy and meet the energy needs of our economy, communities, and wildlife and mitigate the impacts of worsening climate disasters. This rule will allow lawmakers, states, and grid operators to ensure access to reliable, affordable, and clean energy, both now and for generations to come.” 

Alice Madden, Senior Director of Climate Strategy, National Audubon Society said:

“The U.S. needs long-term transmission planning to build a more resilient and reliable grid that meets future energy needs in ways that benefit people and wildlife. As Audubon’s Birds and Transmission report lays out, planning must consider siting and land-use early in the process with feedback from impacted communities as well as conservation organizations. This will support more strategic regional planning and help us rapidly expand transmission capacity to protect against the most extreme impacts of climate change while also avoiding, minimizing, and mitigating impacts on bird habitats and local communities.”

Sachu Constantine, Executive Director, Vote Solar said: 

“We’re at a once-in-a-lifetime moment where we are not only building a clean energy future, but we are meeting the moral obligation to put people first. The current effort by FERC to lay out a long-term plan on how to expand and adapt the grid to meet energy needs is a critical step. Historically, low wealth communities and communities of color have faced disproportionately higher utility bills, power outages and devastating implications as a result of extreme weather events. Our collective clean energy future will only become a reality if we address these disparities and reevaluate the systems that brought us here. Prioritizing the needs of frontline communities during the buildout and implementation phases is key to truly make this equitable.”

Nels Johnson, Senior Advisor for Renewable Energy, The Nature Conservancy, said

“The new FERC planning rule is an important step to help ensure today’s historic public and private sector investments in clean energy can deliver affordable and reliable power to consumers across the country.  It encourages a “smart” planning approach that makes the best use of new technologies to bolster the existing grid and it seeks to minimize land-use conflicts for essential new transmission lines.  People, climate and nature can all benefit from the long-range transmission planning that this rule will catalyze.”

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