Illinois HB 6576 (Energy and Environmental Security Act), introduced on May 10, aims to support the hard-hit coal industry in the state by incentivizing clean coal generation. In a similar vein, the Next Generation Energy Plan, a comprehensive energy policy unveiled on May 5, includes provisions to support Exelon’s ailing nuclear power plants in Illinois. The implications from the Illinois bills --trying to influence market outcomes through out-of-market means -- will not only be relevant to coal and nuclear power in the state, but also for the debate over out-of-market versus market-based policy options in other RTOs and ISOsDetails
On April 19, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a Maryland program to subsidize the participation of a new power plant in the wholesale energy market infringed on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale electricity rates. The Court limited its ruling to the contractual structure of the Maryland program and specified that states may promote generation through other measures that do not intrude on FERC authority. FERC-state jurisdictional overlap will continue to grow as the energy landscape further evolves to incorporate new generation portfolios and comply with environmental mandates.Details
On March 29, 2016, Utah signed into law the Sustainable Transportation and Energy Plan Act (SB 115), which establishes utility investments in battery storage, electric vehicle infrastructure, and several clean energy programs. The new law seeks to boost energy storage solutions to improve the reliability and cost-efficiency of the electric grid, and joins a list of states enacting similar measures, including California, New York, and Texas. New regulatory measures at the state level will expand opportunities for emerging storage technologies, such as lithium-ion batteries, flywheels, and sodium-sulfur battery systems, to provide better operational flexibility and faster response.Details
On March 25, 2016, the Department of Energy (DOE) announced its decision to participate in the development of the Plains & Eastern transmission project, a 705-mile direct current transmission line, which would deliver approximately 4,000 MW of wind power from the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandle regions to the Mid-South and Southeast. The decision marks the first time that the DOE has used congressional authority under the 2005 Energy Policy Act that allows the Department to bypass state approval by directly partaking in a major interstate infrastructure project. Should the project succeed, many others could follow, boosting the development of renewable energy in the wind and solar regions in the upper Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Southwest desert.Details
New policy proposals at both regional and state levels could increase access to wholesale markets for aggregated distributed energy resources (DERs). The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) filed tariff revisions with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 4, 2016, to enable aggregated DER to participate in the ISO’s wholesale markets. DER initiatives in New York, Hawaii, and Texas could also identify optimal solutions to balance renewable energy growth with grid safety and reliability. Access to these markets will be a critical advancement for rooftop solar and solar storage, particularly as DER adoption continues to expand with enhanced technology capabilities, environmental regulations, and fossil-fuel retirements.Details
Oregon’s SB 1547, signed into law on March 8, 2016, will phase out coal-fired generation from the state’s electricity mix by 2035 and double the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50 percent by 2040. The coal phase-out will require utilities to cease importing coal-fired power to Oregon customers, while the ambitious RPS goal will shape the state’s energy mix, corresponding with renewable generation’s ability to displace fossil fuels.Details
On February 26, 2016, the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (DC PSC) rejected a proposed merger for Exelon Corporation’s acquisition of Pepco Holdings, but proposed alternative terms that would require active participation in renewable energy initiatives and improved cost allocation. The growing complexity of the approval process demonstrates the need for more flexible merger plans that address infrastructure modernization and environmental goals.Details
The FERC’s Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Version 5 standards are based on a tiered impact rating methodology, which would bring all cyber assets that could impact BES facilities into the scope of the CIP standards. The CIP Version 5 standards require that responsible entities actively consider the BES security needs beyond mere compliance with minimum standards.Details
California’s decision to retain retail rate net metering is in stark contrast to a December 2015 decision in Nevada that changes the compensation for solar providers from retail to much lower wholesale rates and also decreases the credit solar owners receive for net excess generation. Of key interest is whether the controversial decisions – particularly in Nevada – will set precedent for other ratemaking decisions across the nation. Some states have initiated studies or opened dockets to address these issues, and others have effected changes, and critical findings across commissions will influence the outcomes in other states.Details
Key Takeaways: The Supreme Court ruling on FERC Order 745 establishes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) jurisdiction over demand response (DR) in the wholesale energy market The ruling will ensure that eligible DR resources receive the same compensation as generation resources, facilitating increased DR participation in wholesale energy markets The decision will further the…...
Key Takeaways: The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) will no longer calculate the reference level for its annual capacity auctions based on opportunity costs of selling capacity into the PJM Interconnection region The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has directed revisions to MISO rules to reflect the counter-flows created by capacity exports to neighboring regions,…...
Key Takeaways: Transmission investments are expected to increase significantly to replace aging infrastructure, maintain reliability, and meet environmental obligations and state renewable energy goals Transmission is critical for connecting high-quality renewables and other lower-carbon resources far from load centers to the grid The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has issued a decision reducing the base return…...