Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*   The Spring 2018 Unified Agenda of Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions was announced in the Federal Register last week.  The Unified Agenda lists the actions that administrative agencies plan to issue in the near and long-term.  The Agenda is released by the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.  It shows how the President plans to “maintain his commitment to regulatory reform” and “a reorientation toward reducing unnecessary regulatory burdens on the American people.”  The Agenda shows each agency’s reform priorities and where each related policy stands within the rule development process, from a “pre-rule stage” to proposed to final.   If you want a crystal ball, this is an important one.

*  FERC has scheduled an all-day Reliability Technical Conference – led by FERC Commissioners – at the end of July that will take a close look at critical new energy policy initiatives.  An afternoon session, for example, is called “Managing the New Grid.”  The discussion will explore power system planning and operations and related challenges and opportunities from the changing mix of electric generation resources, including impacts of power plant retirements and increasing dependence on natural gas, solar, and wind power.  An expert panel will discuss critical issues linked to frequency response, ramping and voltage support – the dynamics required to turn electric power into an electric system.  Difficult stuff, kind of important…!
*   FERC also gave notice last week that it received a complaint from a city council person in Rhode Island alleging that the Rhode Island Public Utility Commission on August 16, 2010, as directed by the Rhode Island General Assembly, approved a 20-year Purchase Power Agreement between Deepwater Wind and National Grid that “appears to constitute a violation of the Federal Power Act.”  The complaint is extensive and hard-hitting, including charges that the Block Island wind project does “not serve a public interest, and creates a significant economic hardship for all levels of residential, commercial, and manufacturing sectors.”  The Complaint states further that studies in Texas, where wind power is prevalent, have shown that the net effect of adjusting conventional power plant output to accommodate intermittent and unpredictable power sources like wind turbines can “actually cause higher net fossil fuel usage and carbon emissions.”  There’s an open window, until June 27, to officially intervene in this interesting case.

Tom Ewing
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