FERC

A Sleeper Provision in the Senate Infrastructure Bill

The bill gives the Feds broad authority to authorize transmission projects.

We will need a much more robust transmission in coming years.  Sources of renewable energy, such as Iowa wind farms, are often located far from the urban centers that need the power. Transmission also helps to deal with weather issues that may impact renewables: even if it’s too cloudy for solar in one state, the …

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Carrots and Sticks for Utilities

Utilities control a lot of the power system. How can we get their support for the energy transition?

Investor-owned utilities supply almost three-quarters of U.S. electricity. With some notable exceptions, they’ve tended to drag their feet on the energy transition. In order to push the transition forward, we need to get them on board.  This post will try to diagnose the problem and sketch some possible remedies. The proposed Clean Energy Standard is …

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Time to End FERC’s Misguided Effort to Fix Wholesale Power Prices

A FERC ruling tilts the playing field against renewable energy. It should be repealed.

In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decided that state clean energy policies were distorting energy markets operated by PJM, the country’s largest grid region.  That, at least, was the view of the Commissioners who were appointed by Republican presidents. PJM, which runs the electricity grid more or less from Chicago to Maryland, has …

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Downstream Emissions

A new court ruling could doom the Trump Administration’s ANWR plan.

A Ninth Circuit ruling yesterday overturned approval of offshore drilling in the Arctic. The ruling may directly impact the Trump Administration’s plans for oil leasing in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). By requiring agencies to consider emissions when fossil fuels are ultimately burned, the Court of Appeal’s decision may also change the way that …

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Some of the Things Federal Agencies Can Do to Address Climate Change

Current federal law provides many ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, even without a friendly senate

As the likelihood grows that the United States will have a new president who will preside over a divided government, and various policy think tanks line up to offer suggestions for effective action on various important issues, it seems like the right time to shine a light once again on a series of reports issued …

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Charging Consumers for Imaginary Power Needs

FERC is distorting energy markets in the name of perfect competition.

Last year, the GOP majority on FERC decided that state clean energy policies were distorting energy markets in the country’s largest grid region.  Because they provided incentives for power producers, FERC ruled, those policies should be considered subsidies. It directed grid operators to introduce new policies to counter those subsidies and halt the dreadful onslaught …

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Defanging FERC’s Challenge to Renewables

The gird operator subject to the order has a plan to reduce its impact.

At the end of June, in a party-line vote, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a sweeping order that seems designed to prop up coal. The order will impact electricity markets in a wide swath of the country. There’s been a lot of concern that the order might seriously impact renewables. But PJM, which operates the …

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What Hath FERC Wrought?

FERC’s GOP majority has taken a swipe against renewable energy. It might work, or it might backfire.

At the end of June, in a vote divided along partisan lines, FERC handed down a sweeping order that will impact electricity markets in a wide swath of the country. — likely at the expense of renewable energy and nuclear power. Unfortunately, like Trump’s power plant bailout, the result may be to delay the closing …

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The Puzzle of Capacity Markets

What are capacity markets and why do they matter?

If you live in the Midwest, East of the Mississippi and North of the Mason-Dixon line, or in Arkansas or Louisiana, the companies that generate your electricity are covered by what are called capacity markets.  I’ll bet you didn’t know that.  That’s actually part of the problem, because there’s very little transparency and hence little …

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The Paradox of Electricity Deregulation

This is one setting where “deregulation” is a lot more complicated than regulation.

You might think that deregulation means sweeping away regulations, which ought to make the law much simpler.  But the opposite is true in the electricity sphere.  The regulatory system in states taking the traditional fixed-price approach is actually much easier to understand than the so-called deregulation method. Instead of saying “deregulation” it would be better …

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