BOSTON — Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey filed two sets of comments calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to revise its policies for planning and funding development of new electric transmission infrastructure to promote clean energy, environmental justice, and consumer protection.
In comments filed with FERC on Tuesday, AG Healey urged FERC to promote a more forward-looking, comprehensive approach to transmission planning in New England to benefit all electric ratepayers while facilitating achievement of Massachusetts’ clean energy and greenhouse gas emission-reduction requirements. Specifically, the comments call for FERC to ensure a more transparent, equitable, and consumer driven planning process that will also improve the transmission system’s reliability, its resilience to climate change, and its economic efficiency. AG Healey also joined a coalition of state attorneys general, consumer advocates, and energy agencies in filing separate comments to FERC that reflect broader shared views and concerns.
“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,” AG Healey said. “We’re calling on FERC to overhaul these out-of-date policies and to replace them with new ones that promote an efficient and equitable transition to the clean energy system that New England needs.”
AG Healey and the coalition of attorneys general specifically call upon FERC to, among other things:
- require regional electric transmission planners to engage in a forward-looking regional planning process that accounts for anticipated future generation load growth and other long-term system needs;
- require regional planners to holistically consider transmission solutions that address reliability, economic efficiency, and public policy needs;
- ensure that new transmission solutions improve the power system’s resilience to climate change and extreme weather events;
- ensure that regional planners evaluate a more comprehensive range of project benefits according to clear, non-speculative, and objective criteria;
- ensure that transmission planning reforms address existing inequities in energy siting and deliver environmental justice;
- protect ratepayers from undue costs and risks through increased competition, keeping development costs and risks on transmission providers, and strictly limiting or eliminating unnecessary financial incentives for transmission companies; and
- establish Independent Transmission Monitors for each region to review planning processes and transmission project costs.
In July, FERC published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking public comments on potential reforms to improve regional electric transmission planning, cost allocation, and generator interconnection processes. FERC is considering reforms pursuant to its authority under section 206 of the Federal Power Act, which requires that transmission rates be just and reasonable, and not unduly discriminatory.
AG Healey is committed to ensuring access to clean energy at affordable prices for all Massachusetts ratepayers, and to working with other state attorneys general and consumer advocates to foster greater participation, transparency, and consideration of environmental and energy justice in FERC proceedings.
In June, AG Healey joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general and state ratepayer advocates in calling on FERC to reform its practice of issuing unnecessarily large and unjust incentive payments to electric transmission developers. Limiting these incentives would result in significant savings for electric ratepayers. Those comments reiterated points that AG Healey and others raised in prior comments filed with FERC in July 2020.
In April, AG Healey led a coalition of nine attorneys general and the Maine Office of the Public Advocate in issuing recommendations to FERC on how to establish and operate a new Office of Public Participation. The coalition identified significant barriers to stakeholders participating in FERC proceedings, and argued that overcoming those barriers will require financial support programs, targeted education and accessibility initiatives, and new types of outreach and engagement tools.
Joining AG Healey in filing the coalition comments to FERC are the attorneys general of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Vermont as well as the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, the State of Connecticut Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel, the Maine Office of the Public Advocate, the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, and the Pennsylvania Office of the Consumer Advocate.
This matter is being handled by Chief Rebecca Tepper, Special Assistant Attorney General for Climate Change Megan Herzog, Assistant Attorney General Tina Belew, and Energy Analyst Ben Griffiths of AG Healey’s Energy and Environment Bureau.
Source: EIN Presswire