President Joe Biden has named Richard Glick to chair the Federal Power Regulatory Fee, giving management and agenda-setting authority to the company’s longest-running Democratic member, and a key opponent to a few of FERC’s most clear energy-unfriendly selections below the Trump administration. 

Thursday’s appointment was welcomed by clear power teams as a essential early step to place a supporter of Biden’s power and local weather push answerable for setting the agenda of the federal company that holds regulatory authority over interstate electrical energy transmission and pure fuel networks. 

Glick, a former authorities affairs director for Avangrid Renewables and Iberdrola and basic counsel for the Democrats on the Senate Power and Pure Sources Committee, replaces James Danly, the Republican who has held the place since November, when he was picked by Trump to exchange long-time chair Republican Neil Chatterjee. 

Beneath the Republican majority in place at FERC since 2017, Glick has been a constant, and infrequently sole, vote towards a string of coverage selections which have been seen as undermining state-subsidized clear power and carbon discount insurance policies. 

Battle over clear power in capability markets

Most notably, Glick has been vocal in his opposition to FERC’s minimal supply value rule (MOPR) order anticipated to cut back the competitiveness of state-subsidized power assets within the capability market operated by mid-Atlantic grid operator PJM. 

That order, which is dealing with a number of authorized challenges and continues to be in last phases of implementation, might ultimately pressure photo voltaic, wind and nuclear energy assets out of the market throughout PJM’s 11-state territory, and has led states together with New Jersey, Maryland and Illinois to contemplate departing it fully. 

“What we’re doing right here — and we’re doing it on goal — is making it very tough for state-preferred assets to clear within the capability market,” Glick mentioned in the course of the December 2019 assembly when his vote towards the coverage was overridden by FERC’s then-three Republican majority.  

Glick has additionally strongly opposed FERC selections denying adjustments to New York grid operator NYISO’s buyer-side mitigation (BSM) guidelines, which might additionally limit capability market competitiveness of state-mandated renewable and power storage assets. In a September dissent, he labeled the choices as “a mind-boggling sequence of pointless and unreasoned obstacles geared toward stalling New York’s efforts to transition the state towards its clear power future.” 

He’s equally condemned FERC’s approval of capability and gasoline safety market designs by ISO New England seen by most of the area’s state and federal lawmakers as undermining clear power’s worth as a grid useful resource. 

And Glick was the only “no” vote towards FERC’s adjustments to the federal Public Utilities Regulatory Insurance policies Act (PURPA), arguing that they’ve been pushed by utilities and states searching for to cut back the competitiveness of impartial builders searching for to construct initiatives in vertically built-in power markets.

The powers, and limits, of FERC’s new chief

FERC retains a three-Republican majority with commissioners Danly, Chatterjee and its most up-to-date addition, Mark Christie. That signifies that Glick and fellow Democrat Allison Clements might want to contemplate whether or not FERC coverage proposals searching for to undo or exchange these selections would have the ability to be handed by the five-member fee, in accordance with Jeff Dennis, managing director and basic counsel of the Superior Power Economic system (AEE). 

“Have been it to difficulty one thing by itself to drag again on the coverage, it might want at the least three votes,” Dennis mentioned in a press briefing final week. “Proper now we don’t know the place the third vote lies.” Chatterjee’s time period at FERC ends in mid-2021, which might give the Biden administration a possibility to appoint a Democrat to fill his seat, which might change the political stability on the historically non-partisan company. 

However as its new chair, Glick will have the ability to set FERC’s agenda on key issues associated to those selections, comparable to whether or not and methods to handle ongoing authorized challenges to its MOPR order for PJM. Talking at a December webinar hosted by the American Council on Renewable Power (ACORE), Glick mentioned “I don’t assume it’s authorized” for FERC to impose its authority over state power policymaking on this means, and if courts rule towards them, “I feel it might be the duty of the fee to remodel these orders.” 

Gregory Wetstone, President and CEO of ACORE, highlighted Glick’s position in reversing these insurance policies in a Thursday assertion. “These are damaging, market-distorting insurance policies that should be repealed so low-cost renewables can pretty compete within the market and shoppers will not be compelled to pay extra money than they need to for clear, cost-effective renewable power.” 

Transmission coverage, carbon pricing 

Not all of FERC’s upcoming selections are as politically fraught. One key space the place the company could discover help from Republicans and Democrats alike is in reforming insurance policies to spice up the buildout of transmission grids to permit wind and solar energy to broaden on the charges wanted to succeed in the Biden administration’s aggressive carbon discount objectives. 

Glick is a proponent of increasing FERC’s authority, first set below 2011’s Order 1000, to streamlining the complicated planning and cost-allocation guidelines which have blocked the constructing of transmission initiatives that interconnect the nation’s interstate transmission authorities, generally known as impartial system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs). 

ACORE’s Wetstone famous that “not one interregional transmission line has been constructed” below current Order 1000 guidelines. “It’s time for FERC to undertake a brand new rule that helps modernize and broaden our nation’s outdated and congested energy grid.” 

This view is shared by renewable power builders and enormous company power patrons. It might additionally discover help from federal lawmakers from wind-rich Republican-majority states which have resisted clear power insurance policies, in addition to Democratic majority states which have set zero-carbon and clear power mandates. 

FERC might additionally launch rulemaking processes to interact a number of states and different stakeholders on setting new planning and cost-sharing guidelines for different transmission challenges. These might embody reforms to interconnection insurance policies which have burdened renewable power initiatives with project-killing grid improve prices, and creating new insurance policies to permit areas to coordinate transmission networks to attach the gigawatts of offshore wind being constructed off the East Coast. 

FERC’s current work opening the door to ISOs and RTOs to make carbon-pricing proposals might additionally see bipartisan help, Wetstone mentioned. That effort was led by Chatterjee, FERC’s former Republican chair, and has received the help of the Electrical Energy Provide Affiliation (EPSA), the group representing firms that personal pure fuel crops that introduced the unique FERC grievance towards state nuclear energy plant subsidies that ultimately led to FERC’s PJM MOPR rule. 

“We’ve got loved a productive relationship with now-Chairman Glick and we stay up for persevering with the dialog together with the entire FERC Commissioners,” Todd Snitchler, president and CEO of EPSA, mentioned in a Thursday assertion. “EPSA will proceed to offer market-based options that permit all assets to compete to cut back emissions at least price with out undermining reliability.” 

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