Washington (January 16, 2024) - Today, Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, and Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, along with Representative Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), led 134 lawmakers in sending a letter to Federal Energy Regulatory Committee (FERC) Chairman Willie Phillips urging FERC to strengthen and finalize its proposed transmission planning and cost allocation rule.

Improved and increased transmission is urgently needed for reliability, affordability, and clean electricity. The Department of Energy’s National Transmission Needs Study anticipates that transmission capacity will need to double in many regions of the country between now and 2035 if we are to meet clean energy policy goals, even assuming only moderate overall load growth. Billions of dollars in federal clean energy investments from the Inflation Reduction Act and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law cannot be fully leveraged if we do not expand our nation’s transmission capacity.

In their letter to Chair Phillips, the lawmakers wrote, “In recent years, we have witnessed numerous examples of grid resilience issues, which have highlighted the inadequacy of the grid to handle changing load patterns, interconnect new clean energy resources, and respond to increasingly frequent and severe extreme weather events. FERC’s final rule should ensure that transmission planners account for these factors by requiring a long-term, forward-looking, 20-year planning horizon that addresses the changing circumstances and the evolution of our energy system.”

The lawmakers continued, “In order to grow our economy, keep communities safe during extreme weather events, address historic environmental injustices, and decrease energy costs for consumers, a robust and well-planned transmission grid is essential. With a strong final rule, FERC can play a critical role in achieving these goals, fulfilling the promise of the most consequential infrastructure and climate laws in history.”

In addition to Senators Markey and Heinrich, the letter is cosigned by 19 Senators, including Senators Peter Welch (D-Vt.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Tom Carper (D-Del.), and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), John Fetterman (D-Pa.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.). 

In addition to Representative Tonko, 112 members of the House of Representatives sent an identical letter to FERC. These letters build on the support of two other broad coalition letters, one led by utilities and labor which include BlueGreen Alliance and IBEW, and another led by environmental organizations which include Advanced Energy United, American Clean Power Association, Clean Air Task Force, Earthjustice, Environmental Defense Fund, Evergreen Action, Fresh Energy, Interwest Energy Alliance, League of Conservation Voters, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Northwest Energy Coalition, Rewiring America, Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Union of Concerned Scientists, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, and Western Resource Advocates.

Find the letter HERE.