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.

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About the State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter
The State Ener­gy & Envi­ron­men­tal Impact Cen­ter at the NYU School of Law is a non-par­ti­san aca­d­e­m­ic cen­ter ded­i­cat­ed to the study and sup­port of state attor­neys gen­er­al in their work defend­ing and pro­mot­ing clean ener­gy, cli­mate and envi­ron­men­tal laws and policies.