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Democrats unveil grid upgrade plans; FERC disallows recovery of PATH costs


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Democrats unveil grid upgrade plans; FERC disallows recovery of PATH costs

Democrats roll out $1 trillion infrastructure plan that would benefit power grid

U.S. Senate Democrats released a blueprint Jan. 24 for a $1 trillion infrastructure plan that in part would help upgrade the electric power grid, but the proposal needs buy-in from deficit-wary congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump.

FERC disallows developers' recovery of millions in abandoned PATH costs

FERC on Jan. 19 upheld much of an administrative law judge's September 2015 initial decision finding that millions of dollars in costs the developers of the abandoned Potomac-Appalachian Transmission Highline, or PATH, project sought to recover from ratepayers are unrecoverable.

Trump infrastructure priorities include renewables, transmission

The renewable energy industry caught the attention of President Donald Trump's transition team as it laid the groundwork for what is expected to be a big push on infrastructure spending by the new administration. A document published Jan. 24 by the McClatchy news service identifying Trump's "priority" emergency and national security projects included a huge wind farm in Wyoming and three transmission lines that are being built to move renewable energy.

Easing red tape, Trump promises 'hospitable' environment for new infrastructure

In one of his first executive orders, President Donald Trump has directed agencies to streamline and expedite environmental review processes for infrastructure projects, especially those of a high priority for the nation. While Trump focused on transportation infrastructure projects such as roads and bridges in introducing the order at the White House Jan. 24, the document also included electrical grid, telecommunications systems, airports and pipeline projects.

Trump vows to cut regulations by 75%, kicks off regulatory and hiring freeze

Newly inaugurated President Donald Trump told business leaders he wants to cut federal regulations by 75% or more and repeated plans to slash taxes to encourage more manufacturing in the U.S. Trump made the comments at a Jan. 23 meeting at the White House with a group of corporate executives.

Trump sworn in as 45th president, kicking off shift in US energy policy

Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th U.S. president on Jan. 20, ushering in a new era of national energy policy that will likely include fewer regulations, especially with regard to climate change, and a more pro-development stance on fossil fuel production from federal lands and waters.

Saying he's prepared for new job, Perry regrets calling for DOE's demise

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry told a U.S. Senate panel that he is committed to modernizing the country's nuclear stockpile, promoting "energy in all forms" and enhancing grid security if confirmed to lead the U.S. Department of Energy.

Some see Pruitt's shift on climate change as an attempt to mollify critics

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt seemed to break with President Donald Trump at his confirmation hearing Jan. 18, agreeing that climate change is not a hoax and with the U.S. EPA's finding that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions endanger human health and welfare and therefore need to be regulated.

Report: Trump team relents on order to scrub climate change from EPA website

Multiple media outlets reported Jan. 25 that staff at the U.S. EPA had been ordered to scrub climate change information from the agency's expansive website, but later reports said the Trump administration had backed down from the directive.

NARUC seeks open communication with Trump team on energy policy issues

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners is seeking to open lines of communication with the new Trump administration, specifically on issues of pipeline safety, Yucca Mountain and re-balancing state authority on regulatory issues.

DOE beefs up scientific integrity policy

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a new scientific integrity policy designed to protect the research and independence of its scientists and to promote the sharing of scientific information with the public. Issued on Jan. 12, the memorandum is intended to safeguard a culture of scientific integrity and strengthen "the actual and perceived credibility of the Federal Government and Federal Government sponsored research," the DOE said.

New York updates rules to clear up solar interconnection backlog

New York regulators updated regulations for interconnecting solar projects with capacity of between 50 kW and 2 MW to the electric grid to clear out a backlog of inactive project proposals and help those that are well underway to being completed.

FERC proposes further pricing reforms, this time targeting uplift costs

FERC on Jan. 19 released its latest initiative aimed at improving the way prices are formed in the nation's organized power markets. That initiative, a notice of proposed rulemaking, is targeted at uplift costs, which are out-of-market payments to make a resource whole when it is dispatched, usually for reliability reasons, and the market clearing price fails to cover its costs.

FERC agrees value ISO-NE uses to prevent economic withholding not working

FERC has agreed with a group of New England generators that a mechanism used to mitigate incentives to initiate price spikes has become unjust and unreasonable, granting a refund back to Sept. 30, 2016, and setting the matter for further hearing. ISO New England Inc. will now have to make changes to the way it calculates an adjustment made to generators' capacity payments that the New England Power Generators Association complained was no longer achieving its original objective.

House passes bills to aid FERC rate challenges, advanced nuclear development

The U.S. House of Representatives again passed a bill allowing power rate changes resulting from FERC inaction to be challenged at the commission and in court, as well as legislation to aid advanced nuclear energy development. The two bills passed unanimously by voice vote and were part of a package of 11 bills from the House Energy and Commerce Committee the House advanced Jan. 23.