Executive Insight, Policy & Regulation, Transmission

FERC extends comment deadline on grid resiliency issues

Federal regulators are extending the nation’s conversation on grid resiliency.

Responding to a wide range of energy sector entities asking to have their say, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission decided Tuesday to extend the comment period on the resiliency docket for another month. This will allow those entities ranging from smart grid to fossil fuel and renewable industry associations to respond to the reports filed by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (RTO/ISO) on March 9.

“The associations argue for more time because the RTO/ISO filings are ‘significant, and will require substantial time and effort . . . to digest and analyze,’” the FERC order reads. “The resilience of the bulk power system is a priority of this commission and a critical issue for the American people and for our economy and national security. Therefore, the commission believes our work on this matter will benefit from a robust record and as much relevant information and thoughtful input as possible.”

FERC on January 9 rejected a U.S. Department of Energy proposed rule calling for pricing supports for power generators with on-site storage—primarily coal and nuclear plants. The DOE proposal warned that the rise of renewable energy resources and coal-nuclear retirements was threatening grid resiliency.

While federal regulators disagreed unanimously with DOE’s thesis, FERC did task the RTO/ISO bodies with replying  as to their concerns about the grid. Those organizations included ISO-New England, MISO, PJM Interconnection, Southwest Power Pool, ERCOT and New York ISO.

The RTO-ISO responses were varied as to the resiliency concerns. ISO-NE expressed worries about fuel supply and security given its growing dependence on natural gas pipelines amidst extreme weather events.

PJM Interconnection, meanwhile, asked FERC to better define its expectations on grid resiliency and requirements.

The associations which asked for more time to respond  to the RTO/ISO reports  include Advanced Energy Economy, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Petroleum Institute, American Wind Energy Association, American Public Power Association, Electric Power Supply Association, Electricity Consumers Resource Council, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, Independent Petroleum Association of America, Natural Gas Supply Association and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

“It is imperative that we base our next steps on the best available information, and we encouraged input from stakeholders across energy spectrum,” FERC’s order reads.

The entities have until May 9 to submit comments on the RTO/ISO concerns.