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Grist: FERC May Finally Help the Public Understand WTF it Does

Posted by Emily Pontecorvo on Jan 8, 2021

Grist explained how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission can become more transparent, quoting AEE's Jeff Dennis on what a new Office of Public Participation could mean for underrepresented communities. Read excerpts below and the full piece here.

If you’ve heard of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, commonly referred to as FERC, but have no idea what it does, I don’t blame you. FERC is one of the most arcane government agencies we have in the United States. Generally tasked with regulating interstate energy infrastructure like pipelines, its proceedings are incredibly technical and confusing... 

In December, Congress directed FERC to submit a plan to establish a new Office of Public Participation within the agency. The order was included in an explanatory statement attached to the coronavirus relief package. While the details have not yet been determined, the office is generally tasked with coordinating assistance, and potentially financial compensation, to people who are interested in participating in a FERC proceeding...

Public Citizen has been pushing for the creation of an Office of Public Participation for years after discovering that Congress had actually ordered FERC to establish one back in 1978...

Jeff Dennis, a former director of policy development at FERC, told Grist it was likely because the office was never funded. Dennis said the new order from Congress doesn’t guarantee the office will be created, but it’s a strong directive to the agency to come up with a plan and budget to fulfill its historical mandate...

In addition to how the new office will serve the public, there’s also a question who, exactly, it will serve. Dennis hopes that the new department will focus on bringing historically underrepresented communities such as communities of color to the table, but he said there are other potential beneficiaries too. Dennis is the managing director at Advanced Energy Economy, a clean energy business association, and says he spends a lot of time explaining to nascent renewable energy companies how FERC decisions could affect them. Even larger entities, like cities with clean energy targets enshrined in law, often focus their attention on state-level utility regulation but lack the expertise to understand how FERC decisions could help or hurt their goals.

Read the full story here

Topics: AEE In The News