What’s at Stake
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s landmark Order No. 1000 breaks down longstanding barriers to modernizing the grid and hastening a shift away from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy.
The Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund, Conservation Law Foundation, and Union for Concerned Scientists—represented by Earthjustice and Natural Resources Defense Council—intervened to defend the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) landmark Order No. 1000, which breaks down longstanding barriers to modernizing the grid and hastening a shift away from dirty fossil fuels to clean energy. The mandate was challenged by an array of over 40 states, utilities, and industry groups.
Order 1000, which was finalized in July 2011, creates common-sense requirements for transparent, inter-regional planning—both to enable more efficient, cost-effective investment in transmission upgrades and to help ensure that the necessary infrastructure is in place to meet state clean energy mandates (for instance, renewable portfolio standards) and other important public policies. Order 1000 also requires transmission owners to come together and agree on principles to determine who benefits from and, accordingly, who pays for the major new grid investments that we need to ensure reliable and affordable access to clean energy. Until now, the unanswered question of “who pays” has stymied new projects.
When the utilities filed their suit, they alleged that FERC had over-reached the proper scope of its authority under the Federal Power Act in issuing Order 1000. On August 18, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the mandate, roundly rejecting all of the Petitioners’ arguments and affirming that the reforms are a reasonable exercise of FERC’s authority.