For 1st time in 13 years, FERC looks to revamp interconnection procedures
FERC proposed to make major changes to its large generator interconnection procedures and pro forma interconnection agreement, citing the significant changes that have occurred within the industry since the commission's existing policies were established in 2003. During FERC's regular monthly meeting, FERC staff noted that "the rise of shale gas, the emergence of new technologies, and state and federal policies that have impacted the resource mix" all point to the need to reconsider reforming the 13-year-old policies.
EPA drops efforts to finish Clean Power Plan's model trading rules
The U.S. EPA is walking away from efforts to finalize the draft model trading rules and other projects associated with the Clean Power Plan before the new administration takes over. In a Dec. 19 blog post, Janet McCabe, EPA acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, explained that the agency decided to withdraw the Clean Power Plan's model trading rules and other related projects and post the work that has been completed as a working draft.
NRC renews Fermi 2 nuke license despite pending motion to reopen application
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has renewed the operating license of DTE Energy Co.'s Fermi 2 nuclear power plant in Michigan for 20 years despite a pending request to reopen application proceedings. On Dec. 14, the NRC authorized its Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation to renew the license through March 20, 2045, even though the agency's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board currently has before it a motion to reopen environmental impact proceedings.
FERC aims to further reform pricing policies, this time for fast start resources
FERC floated a proposed rule that would reform the pricing policies for certain generating resources, referred to as fast-start resources, that can provide power quickly in response to unforeseen system needs in markets operated by RTOs and ISOs. The initiative is the third major pricing reform the agency has officially pursued as part of an effort to improve price formation to support efficient investments in wholesale power markets.
Need for forward resource auction in MISO competitive retail areas debated
The Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc.'s plan to meet the resource adequacy needs of competitive retail areas within its footprint by holding a three-year forward resource auction for parts of Illinois and Michigan drew criticism from many weighing in on the proposal. Establishing a forward auction for generators that serve only 10% of MISO's footprint will result in higher prices for customers in that part of the region and deprive them of "the benefits of [RTO] membership that come with access to the large pool of capacity and energy resources in MISO," according to Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan.
FERC finds Mont. qualifying facility rules unlawful, opens door for court action
FERC determined that the Montana Public Service Commission and Northwestern Corp failed to implement the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act in a manner consistent with that statute and the agency's regulations. However, the agency refused to initiate an enforcement action, which means the party that asked FERC to look into the matter, solar developer FLS Energy Inc, can take the dispute to the appropriate federal district court.
Senate Dems seek probe of Trump team over 'deeply troubling' questionnaire
President-elect Donald Trump's transition team may have disavowed a questionnaire sent to the U.S. Department of Energy seeking a list of individuals who have worked on climate change policies. But that did not stop nine Senate Democrats from asking the U.S. Office of Special Counsel to look into whether the questionnaire may have "violated long-standing federal laws designed to protect civil servants against coercion for partisan purposes."
Litigants of EPA's new source emissions rule seek delay of action ahead of Trump
The parties challenging the U.S. EPA's carbon emissions standards for new fossil fuel power plants want to delay any further court procedures until the incoming Trump administration is in place. Arguing that the new administration's plans for the U.S. EPA could significantly impact the rule, the states and industry petitioners asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to push back the briefing schedule from Jan. 19, 2017, to Feb. 24, 2017.
GOP-backed bills to block future regulations will likely fail, NRDC says
Republicans plan to revive legislation in the next Congress to block or limit creation of new federal regulations, including for the energy sector, but the Natural Resources Defense Council is confident the bills will not become law. The U.S. House of Representatives will probably pass a "whole raft" of anti-regulation bills in the 115th Congress, said David Goldston, director of NRDC's government affairs program, at a Dec. 20 roundtable with reporters.