Federal regulators were given new powers in 2005 but Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chair Jon Wellinghoff asked lawmakers to clarify the commission\u2019s role, particularly in light of the push for more renewable energy. In a June 12 hearing before the House Energy & Commerce subcommittee on energy and the environment Wellinghoff bowed to states\u2019 rights to site transmission lines but sought a clear signal as to when FERC can step in. He recommended \u201clegislation that will enable transmission developers to invoke federal authority in appropriate circumstances\u201d as a \u201crecourse\u201d when states fail to permit high voltage lines. The commission chair, a Nevada Democrat, extolled renewable energy. He noted that the majority of states adopted renewables portfolio standards--with Connecticut\u2019s standard at 27 percent by 2020. While California considers expanding its current 20 percent renewable energy mandate to a 33 percent renewables portfolio, Wellinghoff noted that the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory is working with FERC on a methodology to integrate large amounts of renewable energy into the nation\u2019s grid. That study is set for release this fall. Wellinghoff also asked federal lawmakers to consider legislation that could allow a different cost allocation for new transmission lines. \u201cIf there are broad public interest benefits\u201d in building transmission lines, he noted, the commission should have authority to spread the costs to regional entities instead of a particular utility territory as is the current custom. Southern California Edison pioneered that concept with its proposed transmission line from the wind-rich Tehachapi Mountains to urban centers.