Sen. Markey introduces bill that would require transmission planning to accommodate clean energy

sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and co-chair of the Senate Climate Task Force, introduced the Connecting Hard-to-reach Areas with Renewably Generated Energy (CHARGE) Act, comprehensive legislation that would lay the groundwork for America’s clean energy revolution.

The legislation positions the United States to proactively plan and build a reliable and resilient energy grid across broad regions of the country, to bridge the gap between the supply of renewable energy and the cities and towns that need energy access. Federal policy is key to building this interstate power line system, just as it was for building the interstate highway system. Senator Markey’s legislation would implement a series of reforms through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to accelerate a clean energy transition by supporting planning, transparency, competition and effective oversight of transmission networks that can deliver clean electricity throughout the country.

The legislation is co-sponsored in the Senate by Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Sheldon Whitehouse (DR.I.).

“For the United States to run on green energy, we first need to build green infrastructure,” said Sen. markey. “Right now, the United States relies on two-lane roads for our electricity traffic when we need a renewable energy superhighway. The CHARGE Act lays the groundwork for an energy grid that can support an explosion of electric-powered vehicles and buildings, while also improving energy reliability, lowering costs for consumers, and spurring economic competition. My legislation will supply America with the tools and guidance needed to turn the clean energy revolution up a notch, accelerating our shift to true energy-independence that breaks our nation’s reliance on foreign oil from countries like Russia.”

Specifically, the CHARGE Act includes provisions to:

  • Require that transmission plans prioritize lower prices for customers, decarbonization goals, severe weather scenarios, reliability and resiliency of the grid, and avoidance of sensitive environmental areas and cultural heritage sites
  • Ensure that utilities follow through on public statements of clean energy goals
  • Create a reliability standard that will ensure electricity can flow between different regions of the country in the event of large-scale or long-duration blackouts
  • Require open competition for new electricity generation projects
  • Establish an advisory committee to improve governance and stakeholder participation practices of grid operators

A copy of the legislation can be found here† A one-page summary of the legislation can be found here

The CHARGE Act has been endorsed by Public Citizen, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New Consensus, Grid Strategies and Digital Climate Action. The Clean Energy Buyers Association (CEBA) also issued a statement in support of the new legislation.

“This legislation puts important markers in the ground for what is needed to make the electric grid more responsive to the needs of the 21st century,” said Misti Groves, VP for policy and market innovation at CEBA. “CEBA looks forward to working with Senator Markey to advance the bill’s key provisions on forward-looking transmission planning and data transparency.”

New item from the Office of Sen. Markey

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