September 27, 2018 Read More →

FERC chairman vows fuel neutrality on grid resilience

S&P Global Market Intelligence ($):

A rapid decline in costs and growing customer demand will continue to drive the expansion of renewable energy, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Neil Chatterjee said Sept. 26. As FERC looks at ways to define and value grid resilience, the Republican commissioner vowed that any new FERC policy will be “fuel-neutral,” even as nuclear and coal power advocates seek financial support for those plants.

Chatterjee delivered his comments at the National Clean Energy Week Policy Makers Symposium in Washington, D.C. He repeated estimates from Bloomberg New Energy Finance that onshore wind and solar energy costs fell 18% in the first half alone, fueling the swift expansion in U.S. renewable-based power. He also highlighted the results of an Xcel Energy Inc. resource solicitation in 2017 in which median offers for wind and solar power were $18/MWh and $29/MWh, respectively, for contracts starting in 2023.

The federal wind production tax credit expires before that year, yet Chatterjee said the offers Xcel received were still at or below the Midcontinent ISO’s average locational marginal price of energy in 2017. “This means that we are on the cusp of a future where renewables can compete on cost and make money on the open market even without subsidies.”

For its part, FERC has worked to “level the playing field” for renewables, including through the commission’s Order 841issued in February and various proposals FERC has approved from regional grid operators to better integrate renewable power, Chatterjee said. Order 841 requires regional market operators to facilitate the participation of energy storage in competitive markets.

Chatterjee said his past in coal country and support of nuclear power do not play a role in his decisionmaking at FERC. The GOP commissioner joined four other FERC members in unanimously rejecting a September 2017 proposal from Energy Secretary Rick Perry that sought to require regional grid operators to ensure full cost recovery for plants in wholesale markets that stored at least 90 days of fuel on-site. Perry said the rule was needed to ensure grid resilience and reliability, but critics said it would force consumers to pay for uncompetitive and unneeded coal and nuclear plants.

More ($): US Republican policymakers tout clean energy progress

Comments are closed.