We recently discussed the November letter request sent by Congressional energy committee leaders to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) questioning the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) collaboration, or lack thereof, with FERC in developing the Clean Power Plan. The letter also requested that FERC hold technical conferences to explore relevant stakeholder positions regarding the Clean Power Plan, particularly in light of concerns raised regarding the Plan’s potential negative impacts on electric grid reliability. FERC recently announced that it will hold a national conference and three subsequent regional conferences to examine the Clean Power Plan, with a focus on electric reliability, wholesale electric markets and operations, and energy infrastructure. The national conference has been scheduled for February 19, 2015. The subsequent regional conferences will be held in Washington, St. Louis and Denver on dates TBA.
Commissioner Tony Clark noted that FERC is uniquely qualified to “leverage its knowledge of the grid and its relationships with the states and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to facilitate a meaningful, transparent discussion.” The Congressional leaders who prompted FERC responded favorably to the announcement; although, in Senator Murkowski’s opinion, the technical conferences will fall short of the rigorous engagement the EPA should have pursued in developing the Plan. Murkowski stated that this “is no substitute for EPA’s failure to engage FERC and DOE in a formal, documented process to address the impact on electric reliability of EPA’s series of major rulemakings in recent years,” but she has hope that the conferences will be fruitful.