In order for GND legislation to accomplish this task it must include a transformation of the federal agency tasked with regulating and overseeing the U.S. electrical grid-FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
FERC was created in 1977 when Congress passed the Department of Energy Reorganization Act. Over 40 years later, it’s time for a FERC overhaul. FERC must be replaced by FREC, the Federal Renewable Energy Commission.
A transformed FERC would not be a revolving door for its leaders and employees with the fossil fuel industry, as it is currently. An investigative article in April, 2015 in Greenwire summarized it this way: “Employees at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission have deep ties to the industry they regulate, according to agency documents detailing their job negotiations and stock holdings. Ethics records throughout 2014 show agency staff seeking employment with grid operators, law firms and utilities that the agency has jurisdiction over and often meets with as it sets new orders and rules. In addition, FERC employees have held stock in or remain part of pension plans from companies that can be affected by the agency’s work.”
Leaders and employees of a new Federal Renewable Energy Commission must be personally and professionally committed to the historic task of shifting rapidly from fossil fuels to renewables. Leaders must be chosen based not upon their ties to the fossil fuel and nuclear power industries but on their experience with and commitment to renewables.
FREC’s new purpose must be made explicit in a mission statement which commits it to lead the urgent work of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and shifting to a renewable, jobs-creating, justice-based and energy efficient power grid and economy.
As distinct from the way FERC operates, potentially affected and proximate communities must be notified from the very beginning of planning processes for proposed new and/or expanded energy infrastructure. They must be given sufficient support, including funding, to enable them to fully participate in decision-making processes.
FREC’s funding stream must not be dependent on fossil fuel industry “fee-for-service.” Right now ALL of FERC’s budget comes from fees on industries that have business before FERC. It is in the financial interest of FERC to have as much business with them as possible. Given the power of the fossil fuel industry, this encourages corruption and pro-industry bias.