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Utility Dive: Election 2020: Trump's FERC may need to shift course on clean energy, though Biden's road will not be easy

Posted by Catherine Morehouse on Oct 27, 2020

Utility Dive covered the impact of the coming presidential election on FERC, quoting AEE's Jeff Dennis. Read excerpts below and the full piece here.

The rapid evolution of the power grid will require the attention of one critical agency —  the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. And observers say no matter what happens Nov. 3, the agency will have no choice but to address the industry's transition, even if it means backing away from some of its more controversial policies.

Over the past four years, the commission has been accused of trampling on state efforts to move away from fossil fuels and toward zero-carbon, renewable resources...

But despite FERC's role as an independent agency, the presidential candidates' wide gap on energy policy could lead to two different regulatory bodies post-election, making it a critical agency to watch in 2021. The commission's makeup will drive its response to state climate and clean energy policies, and the growth of renewable energy. 

A second Trump term would likely produce a continuation of current policies, though mounting opposition to some wholesale market policies, particularly ones that impact clean energy, might limit what more the commission can do on that front. But a Biden win would create a wider spectrum of how aggressive FERC could get on clean energy, analysts say...

There is somewhat of a precedent of FERC chairs stepping down from the Commission after being replaced as chair. Chairman Norman Bay resigned just hours after being replaced by LaFleur as Acting Chair under Trump, and Curtis Hebert left after President George W. Bush reportedly expressed his preference that Commissioner Patrick Wood take over as chair. 

But though that history exists, stepping down after the term as chair is over "certainly isn't required," said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel at Advanced Energy Economy. And given the chairman's public comments that he would stay out his term, a 3-2 Republican majority under a Biden Administration is "pretty likely" the commission we would see in 2021, he said...

Chatterjee's recent favorable clean energy moves could potentially be good for transmission policy, say other stakeholders, something both the Chairman and [commissioner] Glick acknowledge needs to be overhauled, though they differ on how that should happen. 

"That's one of the places where there could be real common ground among the commissioners, despite their differences," said Dennis...

Read the entire Utility Dive piece here.

Topics: AEE In The News