WASHINGTON (NEWSnet/AP) — Federal energy regulators on Monday approved a long-awaited rule to make it easier to transmit renewable energy such as wind and solar power to the electric grid.

The rule aims to boost the nation’s aging power grid to meet surging demand fueled by huge data centers, electrification of vehicles and buildings, artificial intelligence and other uses.

The increased demand comes as coal-fired power plants continue to be retired amid competition from natural gas, and other energy sources face increasingly strict federal pollution rules, setting up what experts say could be a crisis for electric reliability.

The grid is also being tested by more frequent service disruptions during extreme weather events driven by climate change.

The rule is intended to streamline how power lines are sited and how costs are shared between states. It could accelerate construction of new transmission lines for wind, solar and other renewable power and add huge amounts of clean energy to the grid.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the new rule, 2-1, with Chairman Willie Phillips and fellow Democratic commissioner Allison Clements voting in favor. Republican Mark Christie opposed the rule, saying it fails to protect consumers as it won't ensure reliable, lower-priced power.

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