Skip to main content

What's the FERC Technical Conference About and Why Is It So Important?

Here in a Washington that's preoccupied with political spectacle, it can be easy to miss important details about the business of government that really matter. One of those is coming up next week when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) holds a two-day technical conference about electricity markets in the Northeastern U.S. 

Since policymakers in Washington have not been able to find consensus on a comprehensive energy policy for the country, states have shown leadership in trying to ensure that the electricity system of the future will meet their needs. For some time, state governments have adopted renewable portfolio standards (RPS) to spur the growth of wind and solar to meet environmental policy goals. More recently, states like Illinois and New York have enacted similar programs to preserve nuclear power plants, in order to support nuclear energy's unique package of grid stability, zero emissions and fuel supply diversity.

Illinois Future Energy Jobs Bill preserves more than 4,000 jobs

How these state policies are implemented can be complicated as many states participate in competitive electricity markets that are intended to figure out which power plants should run to maintain reliability at a reasonable cost. This conference will help FERC explore the best ways for markets to work in concert with state policies to achieve broader goals. Next week, when all of the stakeholders get together in Washington, the folks at FERC will be listening intently in order to be able to chart a sensible path forward. 

Of particular interest to us are the programs in New York and Illinois that have valued nuclear plants in those states for avoiding emissions. From where we sit, it seems clear that state programs like an RPS or these more recent Clean Energy Standards programs that include nuclear energy are all pursuing the same broad goal of environmental protection. In terms of policy intent, they aren't really different at all, and if you support one, it would be counter-productive not to support them all.

New York Clean Energy Standard saves consumers $1 billion each year

So why is this so important now? When the electric markets were established in this area of the country, grid operators had spent decades planning and making wise investments in order to support both reasonable prices for customers as well as reliable service. Supporting that was a commitment to diversity of fuel supply that kept the lights on and prices stable. 


What's changed is that the arrival of cheap natural gas has forced prices so low that the diversity of supply we've taken for granted is under threat. And when it comes to natural gas, history has told us that what might look like a glut today can evolve into a frightening shortage tomorrow. It's up to staff and leadership at FERC to take a longer-term view and make prudent decisions today to hedge against inevitable risks tomorrow. We'll be paying close attention to the conversation next week and in the months to follow. You should too.

The above is a post from Matt Crozat, senior director of business policy at NEI.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

A Design Team Pictures the Future of Nuclear Energy

For more than 100 years, the shape and location of human settlements has been defined in large part by energy and water. Cities grew up near natural resources like hydropower, and near water for agricultural, industrial and household use.

So what would the world look like with a new generation of small nuclear reactors that could provide abundant, clean energy for electricity, water pumping and desalination and industrial processes?

Hard to say with precision, but Third Way, the non-partisan think tank, asked the design team at the Washington, D.C. office of Gensler & Associates, an architecture and interior design firm that specializes in sustainable projects like a complex that houses the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys. The talented designers saw a blooming desert and a cozy arctic village, an old urban mill re-purposed as an energy producer, a data center that integrates solar panels on its sprawling flat roofs, a naval base and a humming transit hub.

In the converted mill, high temperat…

New Home for Our Blog: Join Us on NEI.org

On February 27, NEI launched the new NEI.org. We overhauled the public site, framing all of our content around the National Nuclear Energy Strategy.

So, what's changed?

Our top priority was to put you, the user, first. Now you can quickly get the information you need. You'll enjoy visiting the site with its intuitive navigation, social media integration and compelling and shareable visuals. We've added a feature called Nuclear Now, which showcases the latest industry news and resources like fact sheets and reports. It's one of the first sections you'll see on our home page and it can be accessed anywhere throughout the site by clicking on the atom symbol in the top right corner of the page.
Most importantly for you, our loyal NEI Nuclear Notes readers, is that we've migrated the blog to the new site. Moving forward, all blog posts will be published in the News section, along with our press releases, Nuclear Energy Overview stories and more. Just look for the &qu…

Hurricane Harvey Couldn't Stop the South Texas Project

As Hurricane Harvey battered southeast Texas over the past week, the devastation and loss of life in its wake have kept our attention and been a cause of grief.

Through the tragedy, many stories of heroics and sacrifice have emerged. Among those who have sacrificed are nearly 250 workers who have been hunkered down at the South Texas Project (STP) nuclear plant in Matagorda County, Texas.

STP’s priorities were always the safety of their employees and the communities they serve. We are proud that STP continued to operate at full power throughout the storm. It is a true testament to the reliability and resiliency of not only the operators but of our industry.

The world is starting to notice what a feat it is to have maintained operations through the catastrophic event. Forbes’ Rod Adams did an excellent job describing the contribution of these men and women:

“STP storm crew members deserve to be proud of the work that they are doing. Their families should take comfort in the fact that…