Tom Ewing’s Regulatory Update

* From the 17th Century to the 20th? Maybe the 21st?: FERC announced it will hold a workshop next month to take public comments on establishing an “Office of Public Participation” which would ‘‘coordinate assistance to the public with respect to authorities exercised by the Commission.” Wow! Depending on how this idea actually develops, this could be a big deal. FERC’s operations, it’s language, dockets, websites, really the whole public-facing FERC presence, is Byzantine, to say the least. Importantly, this will be a “Commission-led workshop.” Presumably that’s FERC-ese meaning “commissioners will lead the workshop.” That’s some high-powered presence. Also important is that in advance of the meeting FERC is seeking nominations for panelists to help prepare content for Workshop topics.  Nominations are due by March 10.

* Fudging the numbers: California’s State Auditor Elaine M. Howle released an audit report last week on the performance of the California Air Resources Board (CARB) regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The conclusion: not such a good job regarding actual decreases and, maybe more troubling, confusion about the reductions that actually occurred. GHG reduction in CA depends on regulations – “thou shalt” – and incentives – here, here’s some money. The audit states that CARB is not tracking which approach really works, which contributes what and therefore has overstated actual reductions. Another charge: CARB doesn’t collect meaningful program data.  Additionally, the numbers are fuzzy from using cap-and-trade money for job creation and training. Hopefully, as CA leadership moves to Washington it’s giving this audit a close read.

* Getting the mechanics right: MISO – the Midwest Independent System Transmission Operator – holds its final workshop this week on renewable integration impact assessment (RIIA). This builds on its recent February report but actually has a much deeper basis in almost 4 years of analysis regarding challenges presented by increasing the amount of solar and wind generation into a regional grid. MISO highlights 5 emerging risks: stability, shifting periods of grid stress, shifting periods of energy shortage risk, shifting flexibility risk and insufficient transmission. The meeting will be a WebEx event. Material is available for advance review.

Tom Ewing “Reply” or 513-379-5526 voice/text