Tom Ewing’s Environmental Update

*  DOE’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a DOE’s Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week – the “Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule.”  Because electric energy regulators and policymakers do not use English the way most people do the narrative of energy rulings is frequently puzzling.  One core NOPR issue centers on the dependency and resiliency of old-school power generation – coal, natural gas and hydro versus how “the market” prices and compensates new-school renewable generation.  DOE’s Staff Report writes that markets need further study and reform to address grid reliability and resilience. “System operators are working toward recognizing, defining, and compensating for resource attributes that enhance reliability and resilience (on both the supply and demand side). This is on a fast track: the Secretary has directed the Commission to take final action within 60 days of publication of the proposed rule or to issue the rule as an interim final rule immediately.  Comments are due either November 24 or according to a schedule to be published by the Commission.  Clear on that?
*  Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST-41) established a “permitting dashboard” which is supposed to track all major federal infrastructure projects, from power systems to dams to highways and pipelines.  The dashboard is also supposed to reflect the work of a new FAST-41 Federal Permitting Improvement Steering Council (FPISC).  Both the Council and the dashboard have been on the sidelines for the past 18 months. The setup is more like a library than a control tower.  But changes are in the works including a GSA proposal allowing the Council to collect fees from project sponsors, using the money to keep projects on track, with project performance linked to individual performance reviews.  What?!  No way.  Stay tuned.
*  Last March the Department of Commerce started work on a Presidential directive to study regulatory changes to help expand manufacturing development and investments in the US.  The report was supposed to be concluded in mid-May but DOC just released the report.  It’s worth a close look.  One important suggestion: “There is no regular process for consultations with industry to identify specific actions the federal government can take to eliminate unduly burdensome regulations and accelerate permitting decisions. Thus, the Department recommends creating an annual, open forum for regulators and industry stakeholders to evaluate progress in reducing regulatory burdens.”  [Now, if you-know-who would just stay focused…! *:D big grin ]
 
Tom Ewing
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