The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently authorized its Office of Enforcement to begin revealing publicly the names of subjects under investigation, as well as summaries of...
Learning from the States
Energy strategy outside the Beltway.
Many energy experts and media representatives have observed that the U.S. doesn’t have a coherent national energy plan. There are many reasons for this situation, most emanating from the significant differences in energy resources and requirements across this vast nation. However, several noteworthy proposals advanced at the state level offer hope that, in the absence of a national policy, states demonstrate options for reframing national electric energy policy debates.
Economic development, quality of life, and democratic practices are directly tied to per-capita consumption of electricity. China, India, and other developing countries, as well as the United States in historic trends, demonstrate the linear relationship between affordable, reliable electric supplies and individual prosperity. Federal and state policies that promote access to responsibly generated electricity and that reward development of resilient infrastructure will provide tangible benefits to all Americans. In Kansas and across the nation, state legislators are at the forefront in shaping electric energy policies.
One of the reasons that state legislatures and public utility commissions lead the way in formulating more comprehensive energy policies is that legislators and commissioners work closely with utility executives, consumer advocates, university think tanks, and other stakeholders on a daily basis. The identification of shared objectives generally leads toward policy development and implementation. These productive experiences at the state level provide models that could be instructive for policymakers in other jurisdictions, including the federal government.
Setting Green Examples
Some states provide leadership in policies fostering advancements in renewable generation and storage. For example, an electricity storage facility that would address the intermittency problem associated with both wind and solar generation has been proposed in Kansas. This innovative proposal is being evaluated by the governor’s energy and workforce development team, as well as three national retailers, the state’s largest electric utility, the public utility commission, renewable energy developers, the U.S. Army, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Preliminary modeling demonstrates that a coordinated wind and solar storage facility will provide energy capacity ( i.e., reliability and dispatchability) that can meet the needs of regional transmission organizations (RTO), utilities, and customers.
While electricity storage has been used to separately support wind generation ( e.g., in Minnesota), solar generation (California), transmission (Texas, New York), and distribution (Missouri), integration of wind and solar generation with a storage facility hasn’t been attempted. The use of electricity storage in support of such a project would be of a much greater magnitude than any other existing or planned DOE or commercial project.
The nation’s public supports increased electricity generation from non-carbon emitting sources, but depends upon reliable, always-on electric service. Utilities require a