Congressman Casten Kicks off Hot FERC Summer with a Speech Inspired by Megan Thee Stallion on the House Floor
Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Congressman Sean Casten (D-IL) kicked off Hot FERC Summer with a floor speech inspired by Megan Thee Stallion’s “Hot Girl Summer” alongside the introduction of the Energy PRICE Act.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is not often in the spotlight, but for those serious about fighting the crisis it needs to be. #HotFERCSummer — the new social media campaign launched by Rep. Casten — is a celebration of our nation’s energy regulatory body that has helped us achieve our clean energy goals thus far and highlights the urgent opportunity for President Biden to name a Democratic commissioner to FERC, tipping the commission Democratic for the first time in years.
The Energy PRICE Act, cosponsored by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), Mike Levin (D-CA), and Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), clarifies that FERC has the responsibility to ensure that electric utilities take into account greenhouse gas emissions when setting their utility rates.
Watch Rep. Casten’s speech proclaiming the start of Hot FERC Summer by clicking here or on the link below:
“With record setting heat waves 4 out of the past 5 weeks, it’s absolutely crucial that the federal government do all it can to tackle the climate crisis and clean up our electric grid in time to protect Americans from blackouts like the ones we saw in Texas. The federal power act as written a century ago by Congress clearly establishes that FERC must ensure protection of the public interest when setting electricity rates. At a moment when we’re seeing the devastating impacts of the climate crisis in real time, eliminating greenhouse gas emissions is clearly within the public interest. The Energy Price Act would merely ensure that FERC-approved electricity rates reflect the true cost of greenhouse gas emissions,” said Rep. Casten.
This bill clarifies that FERC has the responsibility to incorporate the entire cost of greenhouse gas emissions in their ratemaking decisions, which they have failed to do. It reaffirms the Congressional intent behind the Federal Power Act and recognizes the importance of these considerations in ensuring fair market competition between electric generators.
Under the Federal Power Act (FPA), Congress granted FERC the authority and responsibility to ensure that the rates charged by electric utilities for wholesale rates are “just and reasonable.” However, due to restructuring of the power markets, FERC failed to consider the full economic and environmental cost of greenhouse gas emissions. When we properly take into account the entire cost of greenhouse gas emissions, it makes it clear that dirty energy sources are more expensive and it facilitates the transition to clean energy sources, reducing emissions and tackling the climate crisis.
Full transcript of Rep. Casten’s Floor Speech is Below:
Madam Speaker, I trust most of my colleagues have heard of “Hot Girl Summer” and the broader Megan Thee Stallion oeuvre. Well, I rise today to declare the start of “Hot FERC Summer”, with FERC of course being the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Why? Well to paraphrase Ms, Stallion: because now that FERC has put in all that work, it’s time for them to be the MVP.
Now, some might say that FERC isn’t – dare I say – hot enough to warrant that attention. But for those of us serious about fighting the climate crisis, it should be. The Commission ensures our energy markets, generation and transmission are operating and providing us with affordable, reliable energy. But the best kept secret of all is that FERC is absolutely key to achieving our clean energy goals and a zero carbon economy.
For the last few decades, FERC’s biggest push has been to encourage competition in the power sector. FERC Order 888, which just celebrated its 25th birthday a few months ago, may not have cracked the Billboard top 100, but has been almost singularly responsible for decarbonizing our electric sector. The order, like most-things FERC-related, was pretty wonky, but by incentivizing lower cost gas, nuclear and renewable energy it drove the private sector to drastically lower their greenhouse gas emissions AND slash electricity costs.
From the perspective of anyone who pays for electricity, that’s fantastic news - you pay less for cleaner power. From the perspective of someone who cares about climate change, it’s also amazing - once a clean energy plant is built, you don’t need to pay the wind to blow or sun to shine. Clean energy is the cheapest source of energy out there - and those old dirty plants just can’t compete. In my home state of Illinois, a recent study found that it would be cheaper to sell a coal plant that was built just a decade ago for scrap and procure cleaner replacement power through those FERC-organized markets.
To kick off Hot FERC Summer, I’ve introduced bills that will help FERC build on this success. The first of these was the Interregional Transmission Planning Improvement Act, which I introduced with Senator Heinrich and will ensure that our grid operators are thinking properly about the benefits of building transmission wires across the country. The second, the Energy PRICE Act, which I introduced just today with Representatives Levin, Huffman, and Bonamici would help ensure that FERC lives up to its legal responsibility to protect the public welfare by not approving electricity rates that don’t account for the cost of greenhouse gases. And I’ll be dropping a third Hot FERC Summer bill--I mean jam--next week.
But right now, FERC is at a cross-roads. For the first time in years, President Biden has an opportunity to create a democratic majority at FERC. A majority that will ensure that the incentives are in place to build an electric grid for our 21st century economy. A majority that will ensure that state renewable energy rules are respected and integrated into regional markets. A majority that will ensure that uneconomic fossil fuel plants are subjected to the competitive pressures of a free market that have given us an explosion in solar and wind energy over the past decade. A majority that will ensure we make further progress in our clean energy goals rather than trying to fight against it.
But in order to do any of that in time to prevent more climate devastation, the President must nominate a commissioner to FERC, and the Senate must confirm them. I urge both to do so as quickly as possible, to ensure that FERC stays at its full power and that it will be able to continue to be the most important clean energy agency that most of us have never heard of.
As you of course know, Madam Speaker, Hot Girl Summer “ain’t about degrees”. But Hot FERC summer most definitely is. The record temperatures from Portland to Death Valley, the wildfires and the coming hurricane season are all the direct result of our failure to decarbonize as quickly as we must. While this summer is the hottest FERC Summer yet, it’s coming on the heels of 2020 - which was the hottest summer North America has ever seen for as long as we have records. In fact, the ten warmest summers on record have occurred since 1998 - and if we fail to act, they will be nothing compared to the summers we’ll experience over the coming decades. Because while the best chance to take action on climate was thirty years ago, the last chance is now.
Thank you, and with apologies to Ms. Stallion, I yield back