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Grist: How a Pipeline-Loving Agency Could be the Key to Biden’s Climate Plan

Posted by Zoya Teirstein on Feb 18, 2021
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Grist highlights President Biden’s pro-environment FERC chair appointment, Richard Glick, quoting AEE’s Jeff Dennis on benefits to clean energy. Read excerpts below and the full story here. 

There’s a saying among energy wonks about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: It’s never seen a pipeline it didn’t like. But the commission’s new chair could make that adage a thing of the past.

FERC wields an enormous amount of power, overseeing the nation’s pipelines, natural gas infrastructure, transmission lines, hydroelectric dams, electricity markets, and, by association, the price of renewables and fossil fuels. It’s made up of up to five commissioners — no more than three members of the same party can serve at a time — including one chair, who sets the commission’s agenda.

Historically, the commission has not done a good job of taking climate change and environmental justice into account as it has approved and regulated energy projects across the U.S…

In January, President Joe Biden appointed Richard Glick, formerly the sole Democratic vote on the commission, to chair FERC. Some of Glick’s priorities? Environmental justice and climate change mitigation and adaptation. Last week, at his first press conference since being appointed to lead the commission, Glick announced that FERC will create a senior-level position dedicated to assessing the environmental justice impacts of proposed projects…

One of those artificial impediments that FERC could consider in the coming months is something called the minimum offer price rule, or MOPR…

In 2019, FERC ordered PJM, the nation’s largest regional transmission organization, to expand its minimum offer price rule to nearly all of PJM’s state-subsidized energy resources. The move effectively required renewable energy generators to bid into auctions at higher prices than they would otherwise charge — and boosted the competitiveness of gas generators. FERC approved a similar rule for ISO New England, a regional transmission organization serving Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont…

Glick, who voted against both of those measures as a member of the commission, could reassess those rules in the coming months. “The commission is going to be looking to squarely address MOPR,” Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel of a clean energy trade group called Advanced Energy Economy, told Grist. “It was the best example of the last administration getting in the way of clean energy.” Dennis worked at FERC for more than a decade holding senior positions including director of policy development.

In addition to taking a hard look at MOPR, Dennis said he expects Glick to develop a more cooperative attitude toward states and their green energy objectives. Glick could also update electricity transmission policy to encourage more transmission infrastructure — the backbone of America’s power system, without which power from power plants wouldn’t be able to flow to customers. System reliability is going to be a priority, too, especially considering the power issues Texas and other states are experiencing right now. The commission has already launched an investigation into why a winter storm and cold snap earlier this week left more than 4 million Texans in the dark…

Read the full story here.

Topics: AEE In The News