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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On Unlocking A Clean Energy Revolution Through FERC’s New Transmission Rules

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on his efforts to urge FERC to strengthen their new transmission rules to unlock a clean energy revolution that will lower costs for American families. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission might not sound like the flashiest agency in the world, but yesterday they had a lot of flash: they made a game-changing announcement that can only be described as dramatic change and help for the American people and for a clean environment.

Yesterday, after years of planning – and after I called on FERC to take a strong action last summer, I was pushing for them, repeatedly, to do this – the Commission announced a pair of rules that will revamp America’s power grid. FERC’s new rules will require both long-term transmission planning and establish the way for states to split the bill for big transmission projects. These sound esoteric, but they’re huge. The result, in the long run, will help clean energy compete on equal footing with fossil fuels and result in lower energy costs and increase reliability.

Nearly two years ago, Congressional Democrats, led by the Democrats in the Senate, made history by passing the Inflation Reduction Act – the largest down payment for clean energy production the U.S. has ever seen.

Our bill – which I was proud to lead in the Senate – provided hundreds of billions to boost U.S. production in solar and wind and other forms of clean energy and it's hugely successful. All the programs are being oversubscribed. Many more people are in line – companies, et cetera – to build solar and wind production and other forms of clean energy.

But that was only half the battle. It matters little if we build lots of solar panels and windmills if we don’t have a way of transmitting all that clean energy to the communities that need it most.

And frankly, transmission was tied in knots. What good is it having a lot of wind offshore or solar energy throughout our more sunny areas if you can't get that energy to the people who need it and want it, to the people whose costs it will lower? And so, it was really important to me that we do something about transmission. Unfortunately, we were not able to get that done when we tried to do it here in the Senate. Our Republican colleagues were not amenable. So, we had to find another way.

According to one study, without more transmissions, the U.S. could squander up to half of the climate benefits of the IRA. What a colossal tragedy. We all see what global warming is doing. Look at the weather reports everyday – all these tornadoes and everything else. Where the heck are they coming from if the weather is not changing? So that’s why we tried to include – Senate Democrats tried to include – transmission reforms in the IRA. And after that didn’t work – after the parliamentarian knocked them out– we then tried to work with Republicans, but they unfortunately blocked our efforts.

So, I had to find another way, and I was very eager – and almost desperate – to find another way, because we so needed to bring this clean energy to people's homes and reduce their costs.

So last summer, I wrote a letter to FERC to help provide a remedy, because I knew that FERC could strengthen the rules and they did. They could strengthen rules so we can more quickly build transition lines and ensure clean energy could compete with fossil fuels on even footing.

I spent months working with my team – and with one expert after another – to quietly but forcefully fine-tune what FERC needed, and change our letter on how the agency could make the most of this opportunity.

Well, hallelujah. This is a major change that people are not paying attention to, but it will have dramatic effect. FERC’s rule contained almost all of my requests.

The result of yesterday’s announcement will be more clean energy going to people who need it, lower costs, and increase reliability. We’re unlocking the clean energy revolution along the way.

So, let me say this: this was a major announcement. Yesterday’s announcement from FERC was a turning point in the effort to transition the U.S. to a clean energy economy.  I'm very pleased with FERC. I salute their leadership for doing what they did. And I thank my staff who worked so long and hard to make this happen. It's great news for the environment, great news for the electricity consumer, great news for America and our globe.