Carbon pricing is seen by many as an effective means of reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from electricity generation. California and several Eastern states have enacted “cap and trade” emission allowance programs, which have forced generators in those states to pay a price for their CO2 emissions. With the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan not being implemented, there is currently no federal policy in place that would result in carbon pricing for electricity. In a singular proposal, acting without any state or congressional mandate, but with the support of State regulatory agencies, the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) proposes to require carbon pricing for all power sold in New York State through the NYISO wholesale electricity market. For the first time, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) will be called upon to decide whether and how carbon pricing may be incorporated into wholesale electricity market tariffs solely under the authority of the Federal Power Act.
The NYISO carbon pricing proposal must be fully developed and vetted through a stakeholder process that could take one to two years to reach consensus on a tariff amendment that would be submitted to FERC for review and approval. This stakeholder process and the subsequent FERC proceeding will grapple with complex issues of electricity market design and novel jurisdictional and policy issues. The outcome of this process could lead to a push for the adoption of carbon pricing in other FERC-regulated organized regional electricity markets throughout the nation.
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