Rethinking Grid Governance for the Climate Change Era
One central but under-scrutinized way that fossil fuel companies impede the clean energy transition is by essentially running the United States’ electricity grid, writing its rules to favor their own private interests. In most of the country, the electricity grid is managed by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs). RTOs are private membership clubs in which incumbent industry members make the rules for electricity markets and the electricity grid through private mini-democracies—with voting privileges reserved for RTO members—under broad regulatory authority. RTOs are able to adopt positions against new clean energy technologies because their hybrid, quasi-governmental institutional structures allow incumbent industry members to dominate stakeholder processes. This Article contends that United States grid governance must be redesigned to accommodate a new era of regulatory priorities that include responding to climate change.