GOP leaders in Congress want answers from FERC on Clean Power Plan

Republican leaders on both the energy committees in the House and Senate are pressing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission members on the grid impacts of the Obama EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan, designed to reduce CO2 from existing power plants.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-Mich. and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-Ky., on the House side, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the senior Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, sent letters to the individual members of FERC seeking information on their knowledge of consultations between FERC and the Environmental Protection Agency on the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan and other major rules impacting the reliability of the nation’s power system.

The letter follows up on the request the group sent in November to FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur. That earlier letter asked that FERC convene a technical conference with federal agencies and stakeholders on the challenges posed by new federal environmental regulations to grid reliability. FERC has since announced it would convene a series of technical conferences around the country, starting in Washington DC on Feb. 19.

The GOP requests follow a recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC) raising concerns about the lack of analysis of EPA’s plan to impose tighter environmental restrictions on power plants and its potential impact on the reliability of the nation’s electric grid. Testimony from FERC commissioners at separate Senate and House hearings also suggests EPA did not adequately consult FERC in writing its proposed rule and ignored recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that a formal, documented process be established among relevant federal agencies to monitor reliability challenges, said a Dec. 22 statement from the GOP members. The Dec. 22 letter was sent to Commissioners Philip Moeller, Tony Clark, Norman Bay, and Colette Honorable.

“This letter is to request that each of you review the attached correspondence and provide your views on these matters, especially to the extent that they may supplement or elaborate upon the Dec. 3 correspondence and the attachments,” the members wrote to the commissioners. “As we see it, FERC testimony before Congress, comments made by commissioners, documents previously produced that reflect the interactions of FERC staff with EPA staff, as well as the lists of meetings attached to the Dec. 3 correspondence suggests an apparent pattern of limited substantive FERC input in the development of EPA rules.”

In addition to their own viewpoints on the correspondence with LeFleur, the congressional leaders also requested answers to seven additional questions focused on the participation of FERC in the development of the Clean Power Plan. The letter asks for the FERC commissioners’ responses by Jan. 12, 2015.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.