This story was originally published by Grist and republished here as part of an ongoing collaboration.
On Tuesday morning, Representative Sean Casten from Illinois stood on the House floor with an album art poster for Megan Thee StallionHis “Hot Girl Summer” leaned against an easel on display beside him. The poster, which features a cartoon illustration of Megan and collaborator Nicki Minaj riding a bottle of cognac like a horse, has been photo-edited to instead feature the symbolism of one of the nerdy, secretive governments. transmission and supposedly not hot agencies: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, or FERC.
“I stood up today to realize the hot FERC summer had begun,” says Casten. “Why, you might ask? Well, to paraphrase Ms. Stallion: Because now that FERC has done all that work, it’s time for them to become MVPs. “
Casten will return summer 2019 most popular catchphrases to raise the profile of FERC and get young people more interested in what’s going on at the agency. The congressman told Grist: “This is the most important agency on climate action and nobody pays attention to it. (Prior to running for office, Casten occasionally wrote blog posts for Grist from 2007 to 2014.)
The FERC regulates the transmission of energy between states, through power lines and pipes, as well as wholesale electricity markets – the sale of electricity from generators to utilities. The agency is essential to President Joe Biden’s goal of putting the country on the path to 100% clean electricity by 2035. Decisions made at FERC impact what types of power plants are built. , where they are built, how favorable the market is for emerging technologies such as energy storage, whether new transmission lines will be built and how they are financed, and new gas pipelines are developed.
But there is a lofty aim to follow the FERC decision-making processes, let alone participate in them. They have long, complicated histories, use a lot of acronyms, and require knowledge of complex market structures. Casten wants to shed light on the company for everyone over the next few weeks on social media with Twitter thread, a video and a live Q&A session.
THREAD ️ pic.twitter.com/LhdBNU8DPo
– Representative Sean Casten (@RepCasten) July 20, 2021
But Casten also has political goals for the hot FERC summer. He wanted to urge the Biden administration to quickly fill a vacancy on the committee, and he introduced two bills that would reform processes at FERC to accelerate the transition to cleaner energy.
FERC decisions are made by five commissioners, who are politically appointed to serve five-year terms and have an equal number of votes on the committee. Until recently, Republicans had a 3-2 majority at the agency, but Trump-appointed commissioner Neil Chatterjee’s term expired in June, leaving a vacancy.
The committee’s current chairman, Democrat Richard Glick, has indicated that he wants to take the agency in a new direction, such as by taking into account greenhouse gas emissions when considering new natural gas pipelines – an approach that Republican commissioner James Danly is not on board with. Casten is concerned that currently, with a 2 to 2 vote, the commission will not be able to proceed with new regulations that would help the country make progress on its clean energy goals.
One of those key rules was an overhaul of FERC’s connection and transmission planning process. A recent analysis of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that by the end of 2020, 680 gigawatts worth of zero-carbon energy projects – more than half of total installed generating capacity in the US today – was waiting in a “connection queue” to get access to the grid. These queues are stalled due to the need for power line upgrades and disagreement over who should pay for those upgrades, according to the advocacy group Americans for the Clean Energy Grid. Special high-voltage power lines can carry recycled energy from more rural areas where it is made to population centers are also needed, but these can take up to 10 years to build. Last week, FERC released advance notice that it can reform or modify its policies to help address these problems.
Casten, along with Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, recommend an invoice in April, required FERC to begin developing rules for interregional transmission planning. While the agency is currently clearly planning to address this, the bill lays out a list of criteria any new rule must take into account and backs them up with legal effect. . That bill has been included in many iterations of the infrastructure package currently being passed by Congress.
On Tuesday, Casten also reintroduced Energy Price Act, which would require FERC to ensure that the electricity price covers the costs climate change, a move that will make clean energy sources more competitive.
Tyson Slocum, energy program director for Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization, said Casten is one of the few members of Congress actively involved in FERC issues. He welcomed the MP’s public relations effort on the body, but said he had some concerns about presenting FERC first and foremost as an agency responsible for climate policy.
“I like what Representative Casten is doing,” said Slocum, “but I want to see it bigger. I would like to see us not just talking about climate change but also about energy equity. We see people disconnected from utilities in record amounts for non-payment, because people can’t afford to pay their bills. “
Slocum said if Congress is going to tweak the FERC’s definition of “fair and reasonable” electricity prices to incorporate greenhouse gas emissions, then Congress should also undertake a more comprehensive review of the affordability of electricity. pay of energy.
Casten says expensive fuels are a major cause of high energy costs, and the switch to renewables will make energy cheaper. But he acknowledges that we need a way to fairly fund the transition.
Both Casten and Slocum said they were excited about creating a New office for community engagement at FERC, it can go a long way to making FERC more accessible by providing communities and small advocacy organizations with the resources they need to participate in FERC procedures.
Concluding his speech in the House of Commons on Tuesday, Casten spoke about A deadly heatwave has recently hit the Pacific Northwest, connecting it to our failure to eliminate emissions over the past 30 years and describing it as an indication of what is to come if we don’t start cutting emissions now.
“As you know, Speaker, hot summers don’t equal degrees,” Casten said concluding his speech on Tuesday, “but FERC hot summers certainly are.”
https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-news/megan-thee-stallion-hot-girl-summer-rep-sean-casten-ferc-1200098/ | Megan Thee Stallion Reference Helps Congressman’s Climate Campaign