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Driven by the entry of renewable generation resources locating far from load centers and the new demands placed on the grid by their differing characteristics, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) launched a comprehensive review of its policies regarding regional transmission planning, interconnection and cost-allocation.  In an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR), the agency requested public comments on its current policies and offered potential areas for reform with a view toward anticipated future generation.  According to FERC Chairman Richard Glick, “(a) piecemeal approach to expanding the transmission system is not going to get the job done. We must take steps today to build the transmission that tomorrow’s new generation resources will require.”
Continue Reading FERC Reviewing Rules for Grid of the Future

This is the twenty-fourth in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

In 2020 alone, the United States suffered 22 separate extreme weather and climate-related disasters that each caused at least $1 billion in damages, for a total of more than $100 billion in losses.  That staggering statistic is not an anomaly, as climate change continues to result in more and more extreme weather events every year.  For example, the Texas freeze that rocked the state earlier this year and killed more than one hundred people, also shut down the state’s significant petrochemical industry, disrupting supply chains nationwide, and caused an estimated $80 billion to $130 billion in direct and indirect economic losses.  Hundreds of deaths are attributed to the unprecedented and record-breaking heat wave of the Pacific Northwest, and a British Columbia village where the highest temperature ever recorded in Canada was devastated by wildfire.  Taking into account these and other weather-related tragedies, the losses become inestimable on a human scale.
Continue Reading X-Treme Weather and the Need for Climate Resiliency

In a recent order, FERC pulled back, for now, its decision to sharply limit the ability of retail regulators to prohibit distributed energy resource (DER) aggregators from bidding retail customer demand response (DR) into wholesale markets.  Instead, the issue will be considered in  an ongoing inquiry that is addressing whether to totally eliminate the ability of retail regulators to keep retail DR resource offers out of FERC-jurisdictional wholesale markets.
Continue Reading FERC Reconsidering Limits On Retail Regulator Control Over Aggregating Demand Response

In two recent certificate orders issued on May 20, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) did not assess the significance of the greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions of natural gas pipeline projects in terms of their contribution to climate change. This seems to be a step back from a March, 2021 order, which indicated that FERC would consider the significance of natural gas emissions in the context of a certificate involving pipeline replacement facilities, but reflects an unusual last-minute compromise reached during an open meeting in order to gain sufficient votes to approve the certificates.
Continue Reading FERC Policy on GHG Impact of Gas Pipelines on Climate Still in Flux

This post is the 13th in a series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

As made clear by its name, the Biden Administration intends for its “infrastructure” plan to be a jobs plan.  As is also apparent from the Administration’s proposal, it views requirements to ensure that goods are actually made in America as critical to creating new American jobs.  According to the White House, “by ensuring that American taxpayers’ dollars benefit working families and their communities, and not multinational corporations or foreign governments, the plan will require that goods and materials are made in America.”  Such rules should also help give the United States a boost in its competition with other countries, particularly China.
Continue Reading Made in America: Spurring Domestic Job Creation and Production Through Buy America Rules and Beyond

This blog is the seventh in a series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

Grid Modernization and Resiliency

Grid modernization and resiliency are critical and intertwined issues that only grow more important as climate change increases the frequency and severity of extreme weather events. As the Biden Administration notes in its American Jobs Plan fact sheet, recent power outages in Texas took a tremendous human and economic toll, and power outages generally cost the country $70 billion dollars a year in lost productivity. In light of that figure, the American Jobs Plan’s proposed $100 billion dollar investment in grid modernization may be too conservative. When factoring in health and environmental benefits, the return on investment for an improved grid looks to be extraordinarily robust.
Continue Reading Grid Modernization and Greenhouse Gases

FERC recently took two actions regarding its transmission rate incentives policies.  FERC proposed to scale back an earlier proposed increase in the return on equity (ROE) premium allowed in the rates of transmission owners that join Transmission Organizations such as RTOs/ISOs and proposed to clamp limits on its term.  The Commission also scheduled a workshop to address performance-based incentives for transmission technology deployment.  Both actions were taken in the context of a March 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) aimed at, in part, awarding rate incentives for certain beneficial transmission investments.
Continue Reading FERC Focusing On Electric Transmission Incentives

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has for the first time ruled on whether the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted during the construction and operation of a proposed natural gas pipeline has a significant impact on climate change in determining whether to authorize a project as consistent with public convenience and necessity under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.  In earlier orders, FERC concluded that it was unable to assess the significance of a project’s GHG emissions or those emissions’ contribution to climate change.  In a recent order approving Northern Natural Gas Company’s proposal to replace a pipeline segment, FERC stated that is no longer the case and then assesses the significance of the project’s GHG emissions and their contribution to climate change.
Continue Reading FERC Assesses Impact of Pipeline Project’s GHG Emissions On Climate Change

In  two recent orders, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) continued its push to enable distributed energy resource (“DER”) aggregators to compete in organized wholesale electricity markets.  DERs are located on the distribution system or behind the customer meter, and include electric storage resources, intermittent generation, distributed generation, demand response, energy efficiency, thermal storage, and electric vehicles and their charging equipment.  Aggregators may aggregate multiple small DERs as a single resource to compete in the market.
Continue Reading FERC Upholds Rule Opening Electricity Markets to Distributed Resource Aggregators and Acts to Restrict State Regulator Interference

FERC has opened a proceeding regarding the shift from non-electric to electric sources of energy at the point of final consumption, such as to fuel vehicles and to provide heating and cooling, including process heat at industrial facilities. To that end, FERC announced an April 29, 2021 conference “to initiate a dialog between Commissioners and stakeholders on how to prepare for an increasingly electrified future.”
Continue Reading FERC to Address Electrification and the Grid of the Future