Leading the Clean Energy Charge: Spotlight on State AGs

A patchwork illustration of a wind turbine

When it comes to the future of a clean energy grid, it might be surprising to learn that state attorneys general play a big role at both the state and federal levels. But it’s true. Regardless of who is leading the Department of Energy or Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), for years, states have played an important role, and recent examples prove this yet again.

The energy work of state attorneys general (AGs) derives from core AG powers and duties: guarding consumers, defending state policies and laws, promoting competition, and protecting the environment. Some AGs are also the statutory consumer advocate in utility proceedings in their state. In those states the AG has the responsibility to scrutinize utility rates and practices on behalf of residential customers. Some AGs represent state agencies, like environmental protection agencies, in energy and environmental matters. And other AGs use their independent authority to act in a variety of proceedings that implicate rates and other energy issues.

Here are some recent highlights of state-level work:

Holding utilities accountable for working towards climate goals.

Boosting public participation in energy matters.

Working to address energy insecurity.

Protecting consumers who choose renewable energy.

In addition to these examples of advocacy in their states, AGs are active on regional and national issues, including at FERC. Some examples include:

Protecting state authority to determine generation mix.

  • AGs have a crucial voice in drawing the right state-federal jurisdictional lines in energy regulation. In December 2023, the Third Circuit affirmed a market rule for the mid-Atlantic region that preserved state authority to set clean energy goals. This was a victory in the fight against wholesale market rules that disadvantage clean energy. Three AGs filed an amicus brief in the Third Circuit, urging the court to find that the challenged rule appropriately respected state authority, highlighting their states’ interests in deploying more clean energy and maintaining affordable rates.

Opposing new gas pipeline infrastructure.

Showing FERC how to boost public participation.

Advocating for analysis around winter risk to the New England grid.

  • FERC has convened stakeholders to discuss how to maintain reliability of the electric grid in New England during extreme winter weather events. Massachusetts AG Andrea Joy Campbell participated in a “Winter Gas-Electric” forum convened by FERC to examine the electric and gas challenges facing the New England region. The AG’s office urged FERC to critically examine the relationship between the gas and electric systems in the region, to ensure that the projects that customers are paying for in the name of winter reliability will actually improve reliability, and to continue to hold these conversations with a variety of stakeholders.

For more information on the multifaceted interests and authorities of AGs in energy issues, see our 2019 report, State Attorneys General: Empowering the Clean Energy Future.