All four current members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission are scheduled to testify Dec. 5 at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on “Evaluating the Role of FERC in a Changing Energy Landscape.”
The hearing will be held by the Subcommittee on Energy and Power and will focus on the legal and regulatory authorities of FERC and the manner in which it has been carrying out its statutory duties under the Federal Power Act, Natural Gas Act, and other authorities.
A Dec. 3 briefing memo shows that acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur and commissioners John Norris, Philip Moeller and Tony Clark are scheduled to testify. Currently, FERC has only four sitting commissioners resulting from Chairman Jon Wellinghoff’s recent departure.
FERC’s stated mission is to “assist consumers in obtaining reliable, efficient and sustainable energy services at a reasonable cost through appropriate regulatory and market means,” the memo noted. FERC presently identifies the following as its “Top Initiatives”: smart grid; demand response; integration of renewables; and Order No. 1000 (transmission planning and cost allocation).
The following issues are expected to be examined at the hearing:
- FERC’s coordination with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the potential impacts of EPA’s new and proposed regulations on electricity rates and reliability. This would be a natural subject for pro-coal members of the subcommittee, including the chair of the panel, Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., who is a frequent critic of Obama Administration policy on coal-fired power;
- Natural gas pipeline permitting, liquefied natural gas (LNG) siting and hydropower licensing;
- Electric transmission operations and planning, including FERC’s implementation of Order No. 1000;
- FERC oversight of organized wholesale electricity markets and the operation of such markets, including energy and capacity markets;
- The physical and cyber security of energy infrastructure;
- FERC market manipulation and enforcement authorities;
- FERC’s actions against state public utility commissions regarding alleged violations of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978;
- Natural gas and electricity coordination at a time when the grid is increasingly reliant on gas-fired generation; and
- Integration of variable energy resources and demand-side management technologies.