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Digesting the FERC rule

May 14, 2024
Illustration of a some plugs plugged into a cloud with outlets, and some plugs unplugged on the ground.

Illustration: Gabriella Turrisi/Axios

Reactions to FERC's regional planning rule showed how difficult it will be to bridge the political divide on the issue.

Why it matters: The rule could help usher in a wave of big power line development, but it's not a panacea.

Driving the news: The commission, as expected, approved the rule on a 2–1 vote, with a handful of tweaks from the initial proposal two years ago.

  • The final rule requires transmission providers to plan out 20 years into the future.
  • And they'll have to use a slate of economic indicators — like alleviating grid congestion and extreme weather mitigation — when determining who pays for power lines.

Here's a good example of how the politics have played out:

  • Sen. Kevin Cramer said the rule came at the "behest of radical environmentalists" and argued that it would lead to the heavily renewables-powered "grid that Democrats dream about."
  • Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told reporters that after Democrats failed to enact transmission policy in the IRA debate, they "persisted and found another path through FERC."
  • And then the sniping started. After Schumer said that Congress likely won't do permitting legislation this year, Sen. John Barrasso issued a statement: "If permitting reform is dead, Senator Schumer and Senate Democrats killed it."
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