Richard Glick has a protracted record of priorities for his chairmanship of the Federal Vitality Regulatory Fee. He has already outlined a lot of them, resembling reforming power market insurance policies that limit state-supported clear power assets, increasing transmission capability and unblocking new grid interconnections, and incorporating local weather change impacts into the company’s decision-making course of.
On Thursday, in his first press convention since being elevated to guide FERC final month by President Joe Biden, Glick introduced extra readability to a few of FERC’s latest initiatives. These embrace making a senior-level place to deal with environmental justice impacts of its selections, together with these involving pure fuel pipeline initiatives, to make sure they don’t “unfairly affect traditionally marginalized communities.”
A 2017 ruling from the U.S. Court docket of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has put strain on FERC to vary its method to accounting for the oblique greenhouse fuel emissions impacts of pure fuel pipeline initiatives below its purview. Glick has since dissented towards most of the pipeline selections from the Republican majority at FERC on the grounds that they’ve failed to contemplate the greenhouse fuel impacts of the initiatives in query however has been outvoted because the company’s sole Democratic member.
FERC’s five-member board will retain a three-Republican majority by a minimum of the primary half of 2021, when Biden can have a possibility to appoint a Democrat to interchange departing commissioner Neil Chatterjee. Glick famous that this political actuality implies that, on the matter of contemplating greenhouse fuel impacts of its pipeline selections, “it doesn’t matter what we do, it’s going to require three votes” to succeed.
The function of the newly created environmental justice place will likely be to look at if initiatives below FERC assessment can have vital well being or financial impacts on communities, and if that’s the case, if the initiatives may be moved or the impacts mitigated.
“Second, we have to have these communities’ voices heard,” he stated. “One factor I need to be sure is that they’ve some form of consolation stage that we’ll be taking their issues significantly.”
“I’ve stated it one million instances, and I do know some individuals don’t imagine me, they suppose I’m towards all-natural fuel pipelines,” he stated. However he insisted that his issues are centered on FERC’s accountability to “discover a venture that’s each wanted and within the public curiosity,” and that the latter requirement forces FERC to contemplate the hostile greenhouse fuel impacts of its selections on the general public.
A number of large-scale pure fuel pipeline initiatives, together with Duke Vitality and Dominion Vitality’s Atlantic Coast Pipeline, have been canceled prior to now 12 months below the strain of rising development prices and ongoing authorized challenges. The Biden administration’s aggressive stance on decarbonizing the electrical energy sector and the broader financial system consists of its early determination to cancel federal permits for the Keystone XL pipeline, meant to hold crude oil from the tar sands of Canada’s Alberta province to U.S. refineries.
Glick stated he hasn’t mentioned the pipeline concern with the Biden administration, though he’s open to these discussions with “of us on the White Home and the Division of Vitality.” On the identical time, “FERC’s an impartial company, we are able to’t be instructed what to do, and we’re going to work to construct as a lot consensus among the many commissioners as doable.”
Capability markets, carbon pricing and transmission reform
This push towards consensus will embrace different points that pitted him towards his Republican colleagues over the course of the Trump administration, he stated. For instance, FERC’s Republican majority has issued orders that may limit state-supported clear power assets within the capability markets run by mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM, New York state grid operator NYISO and New England grid operator ISO New England.
Glick has stated he believes authorized challenges to those FERC selections will succeed, which can result in alternative constructions being labored out by grid operators and state and business stakeholders. “I believe all of them are looking at revising their approaches,” he stated, and “I’m assured my colleagues will provide you with a course of that doesn’t block state insurance policies.”
FERC’s October determination to draft a coverage assertion that may permit grid operators to suggest carbon pricing regimes to the company might open one other avenue for creating market constructions that serve to protect state power insurance policies that promote decarbonization, he stated. Former Chairman Neil Chatterjee, a Republican, launched that carbon pricing coverage effort, and newly confirmed Democratic FERC commissioner Allison Clements helps insurance policies that account for carbon impacts within the wholesale markets the company regulates.
On the transmission entrance, Glick highlighted the necessity to reform FERC Order 1000, which was created a decade in the past to bolster interregional transmission initiatives, however has had the perverse impact of incentivizing smaller-scale initiatives that may keep away from the complicated planning and cost-sharing negotiations required for initiatives that span a number of states and grid operator territories. He additionally pointed to the rising prices for clear power initiatives in search of to interconnect to the transmission grid as an space in want of reform.
Glick additionally pledged to “construct public confidence within the fee’s decision-making course of” by an Workplace of Public Participation, with a brand new finances laid out as one of many power coverage reforms within the omnibus spending and COVID-19 aid invoice handed by Congress in December.
Glick stated he intends to additional flesh out his high priorities on the upcoming FERC assembly on Thursday.