Washington (May 13, 2024) - Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), chair of the Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate, and Nuclear Safety, released the following statement after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released its final rule that will enable new transmission capacity to be built across the country, as well as a rule to approve FERC’s backstop authority to rule on transmission proposals in areas designated as National Interest Electric Transmission Corridors.

“I applaud the strong final rule released today by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that will increase much-needed transmission across our country—transmission that will literally bring power to the people. Right now, cheap clean energy can’t always get to our homes because we don’t have the transmission capacity to get it there. This makes our grid more vulnerable to power outages, keeps affordable generation off the grid, and makes it harder for us to transition to pollution-free energy. These big wires have long needed better planning processes to determine where they should go, who should pay for them, and how generators can get their power from one place to another—all of which will make sure Americans can keep the lights on and connect new, affordable renewable energy to our rapidly changing world.

“Throughout my service in Congress, I have fought for a modern, efficient, and fair power grid – from writing the provision that helped open up access to transmission in the early 1990s, to the innovative transmission provisions in the Waxman-Markey bill in 2009, and most recently, with the CHARGE Act in the Senate. My CHARGE Act would specifically require the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to finalize a rule to improve long-term, forward-looking transmission planning, and develop a methodology to assign costs for that transmission build-out based on a holistic set of costs and benefits.

“Today, FERC followed through, taking a major step forward towards unleashing a clean, affordable, and reliable energy revolution. This new rule will require transmission providers to consider all grid needs and potential solutions—including cost-effective and efficient advanced transmission technologies—as well as establish a set of seven critical benefits for planning and cost allocation, as I recommended in a letter I led to FERC Chair Willie Phillips. I thank the Commission for its efforts, including on the other rule issued today on backstop siting authority, and its increased emphasis on public engagement focused on environmental justice and Tribal communities—another key component from my CHARGE Act.

Senator Markey has long been a champion of much-needed grid modernization. In January 2024, Senator Markey 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 FERC Chairman Willie Phillips urging FERC to strengthen and finalize its proposed transmission planning and cost allocation rule. In November 2023, Senator Markey, as co-chair of the Senate Climate Change Task Force, hosted a bicameral forum between the Senate Climate Change Task Force and the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition to spotlight transmission policies that would improve electric grid reliability, bolster system resiliency, and advance the clean energy economy across the United States. In July 2023, Senator Markey and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (NY-14) and Greg Casar (TX-35) led the reintroduction of the CHARGE Act, which contains several key provisions for expanding transmission and critical grid infrastructure to improve reliability, lower costs for ratepayers, and spur clean energy innovation. Also with Congressman Casar and Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, Senator Markey introduced the Connect the Grid Act on February 14, 2024, which would require the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) to build transmission and connect to the nation’s major electric grids.

Senator Markey has also led on regional transmission and planning issues. In April 2024, he sent a letter to the Independent Service Operator-New England (ISO-NE), urging the grid operator to continue to improve its governance and transparency policies, proactively plan for new transmission, and ensure fair access to markets for clean energy technologies.