Press Release

Eleven AGs Call on FERC to Increase Grid Resilience and Make Transmission Planning More Inclusive

AGs urge FERC to develop transmission planning process that creates a more climate-resilient grid and addresses historic environmental injustice.

New York, N.Y. — A coalition of 11 attorneys general filed comments yesterday in response to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) advanced notice of proposed rulemaking on transmission planning. Emphasizing the importance of protecting ratepayers, the coalition urged FERC to ensure the resilience of both the existing system and of new infrastructure in the face of climate change and extreme weather events. The AGs also urged the Commission to better consider using existing infrastructure to meet transmission needs. Additionally, the comments called for a more equitable and holistic transmission planning process, with recommendations for how to make participation more accessible to groups affected by energy infrastructure development, especially low-income communities and communities of color, who have been historically left out of the planning process and are disproportionately burdened by pollution and the harms associated with climate change. The coalition also called for fewer barriers to interregional planning to allow for more efficient integration of resources.

Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey also filed individual comments highlighting the need for a more forward-looking transmission planning process as the state’s renewable energy industry develops. These comments noted the need for New England to “radically remake its power system” in the face of the opportunities presented by new types of generation resources and load growth due to electrification, as well as the challenges presented by things like increasing extreme weather events and cybersecurity threats.

“Transmission reform is central to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from the power sector as well as in other sectors through electrification,” said Jessica Bell, Deputy Director of the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center. “With this proceeding, there is a real opportunity to highlight how the transmission system can be designed to support a clean, affordable, and equitable future, and that these must be driving factors of change, rather than an afterthought.”

“The climate crisis is wreaking havoc on Massachusetts communities, especially those already overburdened with environmental harm. Now is the time to replace polluting power plants with clean resources,” said Attorney General Healey in a statement. “We’re calling on FERC to overhaul these out-of-date policies and to replace them with new ones that promote an efficient and equitable transition to the clean energy system that New England needs.”

Background — In July, FERC issued an advanced notice of proposed rulemaking (ANOPR) titled “Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation and Generator Interconnection.” Noting that it had been over a decade since the Commission considered reforms to the transmission planning process, the ANOPR sought comments on how FERC could improve the transmission planning process, cost allocation, and generator interconnection. The ANOPR provided and explained a number of proposed solutions, but also welcomed alternative ideas for addressing these issues. The Center held a webinar last month to discuss the ANOPR in depth.

The attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, D.C. joined yesterday’s filing. The Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, Maine Office of the Public Advocate, Maryland Office of People’s Counsel, New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate also joined.

The attorney general of Tennessee filed comments as well, noting the state’s unique perspective due to the services provided by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a federal power agency. The attorney general of Ohio filed comments on behalf of the state’s Federal Energy Advocate, agreeing that change is needed but urging caution against scrapping pieces of existing transmission policy that have been working.

FERC will be accepting reply comments until November 30. FERC will hold a technical conference to discuss many of the issues raised in the ANOPR on November 15.


About the State Energy & Environmental Impact Center:
The State Energy & Environmental Impact Center at NYU School of Law is a nonpartisan academic center at NYU School of Law. The Center is dedicated to working towards a healthy and safe environment, guided by inclusive and equitable principles. The Center studies and supports the work of state attorneys general (AGs) in defending, enforcing, and promoting strong laws and policies in the areas of climate, environmental justice, environmental protection, and clean energy.