Trackers

Tracking Transmission Reform

A transmission tower in front of an orange sky; a flock of birds flies past; a snippet of text from FERC's Building for the Future NOPR; the State Impact Center logo.

This resource was launched October 29, 2021. It was last updat­ed September 19, 2023.

Hear from state attorneys general about why transmission reform is a critical aspect of climate response and what’s at stake, learn about the broad reform needs in this space, and keep track of opportunities to engage in pushing towards more equitable transmission policy.

AGs Explain What’s at Stake

Then Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

“We have no time to waste in address­ing this cri­sis. [We need to start] build­ing new, equi­table, resilient, and effi­cient elec­tric trans­mis­sion on a big scale, and fast. … These changes need to be trans­par­ent, bold, and cen­ter the peo­ple most deeply impact­ed by the cli­mate crisis.”

– Then-Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey

Connecticut Attorney General William Tong

“To reach our state and fed­er­al cli­mate and oth­er goals, we will need sub­stan­tial new trans­mis­sion infra­struc­ture. … Attor­neys gen­er­al have been active par­tic­i­pants before FERC, and we are work­ing now to make sure any new ener­gy infra­struc­ture is effi­cient, resilient, and affordable.”

– Connecticut Attorney General William Tong

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

“I can imag­ine few things that would be more trans­for­ma­tion­al and ben­e­fi­cial for the con­sumers of my state than reform­ing the way we trans­mit ener­gy. It’ll cre­ate jobs, improve pub­lic health, reduce costs, and give us the ener­gy reli­a­bil­i­ty we’ve been demand­ing for years.”

– Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel

Then Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh

“FERC’s new focus on trans­mis­sion reform presents an oppor­tu­ni­ty for find­ing cre­ative ways to ame­lio­rate the impacts of our reliance on fos­sil fuel plants in [low-income and major­i­ty minor­i­ty] com­mu­ni­ties. … Pro­mot­ing clean ener­gy gen­er­al­ly will lessen the health effects of fos­sil fuel-based ener­gy sources..”

– Then-Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh

Transmission in Focus

Background

July 2023

In July 2023, after a unanimous vote, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued its final rule to improve generator interconnection procedures. FERC aims to modernize the grid by reducing backlogs in the interconnection queue, enhancing reliability, improving costs, preventing undue preference or discrimination against new sources of power generation, and more. Notably, the rule requires that all public utilities adopt a “first-ready, first-served cluster study” process for evaluating groups of proposed generating facilities at once, instead of spending resources and time on separate studies for each proposed facility. The rule also requires that interconnection customers take on new financial commitments–including penalties when customers withdraw from the interconnection queue–to discourage non-viable interconnection requests. FERC released a news release (FERC Transmission Reform Paves Way for Adding New Energy Resources to Grid), a presentation (Staff Presentation - Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements), and a fact sheet (Fact Sheet - Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements) discussing the final rule.

June 2022

In June 2022, FERC issued (1) a proposed rule to address interconnection procedures; and (2) two proposals to address grid reliability against extreme weather.

In a notice of proposed rulemaking titled Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements, FERC proposes reforms to address the delays and costs that new generation and storage projects can face in attempting to connect to the grid. Aspects of the proposal include: (1) changes to the study process and new readiness requirements for customers; (2) deadlines for processing interconnection studies with associated penalties for failing to meet deadlines; (3) the incorporation of technological advancements; and (4) updated modeling and performance requirements.

In a notice of proposed rulemaking titled Transmission System Planning Performance Requirements for Extreme Weather, FERC proposes to direct the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) to develop modifications to reliability standards around transmission planning for extreme heat and cold weather. And in a notice of proposed rulemaking titled One-Time Reports on Extreme Weather Vulnerability Assessments, FERC proposes to direct transmission providers to submit a report on their approach to extreme weather vulnerability and risk mitigation. This is an information gathering activity and would not require new assessments.

April 2022

In April 2022, FERC issued a notice of proposed rulemaking, Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection. This proposal addresses several pieces of the inquiry FERC launched in its earlier advanced notice in this proceeding.

The proposal includes:

  • Forward-looking regional transmission planning on a 20-year planning horizon (at minimum) and including accounting for extreme weather events.
  • More robust consideration of dynamic line ratings and advanced power flow control devices.
  • A significant role for states in cost allocation for transmission facilities.
  • Prohibition of the construction-work-in-progress incentive for facilities selected through long-term regional transmission planning.
  • A federal right of first refusal for facilities selected in a regional transmission plan, as long as the incumbent transmission developer established joint ownership with unaffiliated, nonincumbent developers.
  • Enhanced transparency requirements for transmission providers.

Our colleagues at the Institute for Policy Integrity at NYU Law provide a summary of the April 2022 proposal.

July 2021

In July 2021, FERC issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking called Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection. FERC’s efforts in this area are likely to be key to facilitating the cost-effective and efficient buildout of the transmission system needed to enable a cleaner, affordable energy future.

Customer demand, state and federal policies, and cost competitiveness have driven the country’s power generation mix towards cleaner technologies. We are shifting from large resources sited near population centers to renewables, which are often located far from population centers, based on sun or wind patterns. Current transmission policies have led to backlogs in adding new renewable generation to the grid. Serious reform is needed to access these resources in a cost-effective and efficient way. As FERC Chair Richard Glick and Commissioner Allison Clements said in a statement: “With the clean energy transition gaining steam, we can either continue with the status quo, trying to meet the transmission needs of the future by building out the grid in a myopic, piecemeal fashion, or we can start holistically and proactively planning for those future transmission needs.”

In its advanced notice of proposed rulemaking, FERC asked for comment on potential reforms in broad areas, including how costs of new transmission and upgrades should be allocated, whether the planning process should take into account likely future generation, and what kind of oversight there should be. FERC’s news release and staff presentation that accompanied issuance of the advanced notice provide additional information. This is the beginning of a longer process that will have further opportunities for stakeholder and public engagement.

Important Dates

Upcoming

Past

AG Work

Transmission Planning and Cost Management & Joint Federal-State Task Force on Electric Transmission

Post-Technical Conference Comments

Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements

Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) - Comments

Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection

Notice of Pro­posed Rule­mak­ing (NOPR) - Reply Comments

Notice of Pro­posed Rule­mak­ing (NOPR) - Comments

Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) - Reply Comments

Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR) - Comments

Resources

From FERC & DOE

A view of offshore wind turbines on a calm day with a clear sky

Atlantic Offshore Wind Transmission Action Plan

Department of Energy, Grid Deployment Office

September 2023

See Older Items

Papers and Reports

A map showing transmission regions with different colors indicating different "grades"

Transmission Planning & Development Regional Report Card

Americans for a Clean Energy Grid

June, 2023

See Older Items

Transmission Reform in the Media

The US is building power lines faster, but not fast enough

Canary Media Jeff St. John

September 18, 2023

A transmission tower sits on a sloping green hill against a blue sky filled with wispy white clouds

The Ongoing Struggle to Join PJM’s Grid

RMI Claire Wayner

July 24, 2023

A transmission tower

East Coast states float clean energy grid plan with DOE

E&E News Miranda Willson

June 20, 2023

See Older News Items

Insights by Center Staff and Advisory Council Members

Transmission towers, sound waves, and torn paper.

Reflections on FERC’s Environmental Justice Roundtable

Jessica Bell | May 25, 2023

Organizations and individuals recently submitted comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) following its Roundtable on Environmental Justice and Equity in Infrastructure Permitting. This post discusses a few themes from some of the comments....

An illustration depicting a clean energy future: wind turbines and a gust of wind; solar panels and a bright sun; a green skyline sits on the globe.

Unjust, Unreasonable, Unwelcome: EJ Barriers at FERC

Sasha George Ruiz, Jessica Bell | January 26, 2023

A look at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s recent commitment to prioritizing environmental justice, where there is still room for improvement, and opportunities for public engagement...

Solar panels on a building with corrugated metal siding; text from a Department of Energy press release sits in the sky behind the building

Get a GRIP on DOE Funding

Jessica Bell | November 10, 2022

The acronym soup of fed­er­al laws that will tur­bocharge clean ener­gy is ready for prime­time. This week, we’ll take a look at the Infra­struc­ture Law, signed last year (some­times referred to as the BIL or the IIJA)...

A transmission tower

The “Goldilocks” Approach to Transmission Cost Allocation

Gabe Tabak | March 24, 2022

Cleaning up the grid means building electricity transmission for clean energy sources, which can be held up over the contentious issue of “cost allocation”...

Bats flying around a transmission tower

Tricks, Treats, and Transmission: Bringing Equity to Grid Planning

Jessica Bell, Howard Crystal | October 28, 2021

The past year has shown how the climate emergency and severe weather test the transmission system. The current system is failing these tests...

Webinars

A transmission tower

Environmental Justice & Transmission Development

Historically, the U.S. has constructed infrastructure in a manner that disproportionately harms low-income communities and people of color, who are more likely to live near sources of pollution and experience harmful health consequences. This discussion, co-hosted with Americans for a Clean Energy Grid, explored EJ considerations in transmission development.

An image of transmission tower in the midground center, with draping transmission lines on either side extending from the foreground to the midground; in the background, a smoky valley in various shades of blue.

Generating Change for a Just Grid

A discussion of important changes underway at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on how the electric transmission system is planned and who pays. Hear from FERC Commissioner Willie Phillips, FERC staff, and an expert panel talk about the role for states, equity, and decarbonization in these transmission changes, and how you can get involved.

Power lines receding into the distance connecting to a transmission tower shortly after sunrise; a blue sky with a few clouds; green grass; the black silhouette of a leafless tree.

Building the Grid of the Future: A Discussion of Transmission Reform

The State Impact Center hosted webinar that gave an overview of FERC’s “Building for the Future” advanced notice of proposed rulemaking and discussed how the proceeding relates to state clean energy goals, customer costs, environmental justice, and more.

An abstract image showing solar panels, transmission towers, and text from various articles and documents about FERC.

Energizing Your FERC Practice

New to FERC? The State Impact Center hosted a webinar that gave an overview of the nuts and bolts of engaging in FERC proceedings, highlighted FERC’s major substantive areas of responsibility, and discussed different ways to advocate in front of the Commission.