Federal regulators are close to decision on transmission line buildout

Power lines course through the hills east of San Francisco Bay.


Federal regulators might decide in a matter of a few weeks on a final rule regarding transmission lines and how they are sited and how their costs are shared between states. It could have a big impact in Oklahoma where there has been an ongoing debate over whether to give utilities the power of the Right of First Refusal in construction of those lines.

Willie Phillips, chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission recently hold a winter meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners the issue remains a “priority.”

Oklahoma’s three Corporation Commissioners were on hand for the meeting in Washington, DC. as he said the FERC is nearing its “final lap” on the highly anticipated rule.

Two years ago, Oklahoma was one of 17 states that notified the FERC that they opposed what was being proposed in the name of the Biden administration’s green energy push.

“It evidently seeks to accomplish that goal by socializing the costs of a massive transmission build-out to connect renewable energy generators to the grid in a way to distribute the costs of build-out to as wide a base of ratepayers as possible, without regard to whether those payers have any interest in renewable energy generation.There are multiple statutory, evidentiary, and policy-based problems with this proposal to profoundly reshape electric grid regulation,” wrote the states.

Oklahoma and the other states intervened to protect their interests in electrical generation and their regulation of it. John O’Connor was the Oklahoma Attorney General at the time and signed the intervention appeal.

Pressure has also been applied by Democratic lawmakers and clean energy advocates for FERC to finalize the rule to add large amounts of clean energy to the grid. It would be seen as another step to meet the Biden administration’s goal of a carbon-free power sector by 2035.

However, a Department of Energy study  showed that to meet the target, the U.S. would need to more than double its existing regional transmission capacity and increase by fivefold the transmission lines between regions.