January 9 (Renewables Now) - The US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Monday abandoned the proceedings related to Energy Secretary Rick Perry's proposal to subsidise coal and nuclear generation and took action to define what resilience means.
The commission issued an order initiating a new proceeding “to holistically examine the resilience of the bulk power system”. It directs operators of the regional wholesale power markets, also known in the US as regional transmission organisations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs), to help FERC determine whether additional action on resilience of the bulk power system is in fact needed.
The new plan is to develop a common understanding of what resilience of the bulk power system means and requires; to understand how each RTO and ISO assesses resilience in its geographic footprint; and to use this information to evaluate whether additional FERC action regarding resilience is appropriate. Regional market operators have 60 days to submit the required information. Other interested parties are welcome to respond to the market operators’ comments.
The commission, meanwhile, thanked Rick Perry “for his having reinforced grid resilience as an important issue that warrants the further attention of FERC”.
In a notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) in September 2017, the US Energy Secretary said FERC needs to quickly develop new market rules to ensure that the reliability and resiliency attributes of power plants with on-site fuel supplies "are fully valued". Perry spoke of "fair compensation" to stop the "imminent loss" of power generation capacity with on-site fuel supplies, mainly coal and nuclear power plants, and of "severe consequences" for the grid coming from additional shut-downs. He wanted immediate action, with the NOPR on grid resiliency pricing directing the FERC to take action within just 60 days.
Several industry groups, among which the wind and solar associations AWEA and SEIA, the American Council on Renewable Energy, the Energy Storage Association, and the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, said in a joint statement today they are very encouraged by FERC’s move.
“We look forward to engaging with FERC, DOE [the Department of Energy], and grid operators in an examination of what resilience of the electric power system means and requires, and to demonstrating the contribution of our industries to ensuring reliable power for all,” says the statement.
In a response to the FERC decision, Secretary Perry said that diverse fuel supply, especially with onsite fuel capability, is key for ensuring that Americans have reliable, resilient and affordable electricity and that "it is not debatable".
"While the grid's integrity is being maintained by an abundant and diverse supply of fuel sources today, the real question is whether or not this diversity will be here tomorrow," commented Shaylyn Hynes, DOE spokeswoman.