EPA, mercury and electric reliability.
The energy industry has known for decades that federal regulators eventually would set rules under the Clean Air Act to govern emissions of mercury and other air toxics from coal-fired power plants. However, with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency now having issued a final mercury rule, along with guidelines for possible extensions of the compliance deadline, utilities and power plant owners finally have a clear idea what they are up against. And the outlook isn't pretty. The challenge is to retrofit many hundreds of generating plants across the country--and all on the same three-year compliance schedule. Yet two wildcards remain in play: what deference the EPA will give to electric reliability needs, as it "consults" with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the North American Electric Reliability Council; and how effective FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff will be as Republican leadership in Congress works to derail the new rules.
Generators fight back against EPA’s new regulations
With a flurry of major new environmental regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is altering the power generation landscape. But will the new federal rules survive court challenges—to say nothing of next year’s national elections? Fortnightly's Michael T. Burr considers the controversy over new environmental standards. PLUS: Top Utility Lawyers of 2011.
1. ‘Policy’ Guides the Grid; 2. Carbon Not a Nuisance (Yet); 3. Gigabucks for Negawatts; 4. A MOPR, Not a NOPR; 5. Ramp Up the Frequency; 6. Cap-and-Trade Still Lives; 7. Cyber Insecurity; 8. Korridor Killer; 9. The Burden Not Shared; 10. Ozone Can Wait.
Getting the most from demand response—despite a flawed FERC rule.
FERC’s new rule on compensation for demand resources tips the market balance toward negawatts. Arguably the commission’s economic analysis is flawed, and the rule represents a covert policy decision that stretches federal authority. Nevertheless, economic benefits will result if DR programs are well implemented to avoid gaming the system and distorting the market.
NERC confronts a case backlog now numbering in the thousands.
The case backlog of unprocessed electric reliability violations is growing out of control, threatening to “swamp” the industry — a sign, perhaps, that when Congress and FERC modernized the electric reliability regime to serve a more market-based industry structure, and for the first time gave enforcement authority to North American Reliability Corp. (NERC) as the nation’s official electric reliability czar, no one gave much thought, apparently, as to whether NERC’s very idea of what constitutes reliability might have needed modernizing as well.
Which path leads to the smart grid?
A fierce debate has erupted in the utility policy community, with battle lines drawn within FERC itself. In the effort to improve system efficiency, two competing alternatives stand out: to build the smart grid on large-scale demand response (DR) programs, or to build it around consumer behavior in retail markets.
ITC and AEP jockey for the lead in building the grid of tomorrow.
On February 9, a group of the nation’s major grid system operators released a study estimating the nation’s electric industry sector needs to spend some $80 billion—more than 10 times the size of that portion of the Obama stimulus package directed specifically at transmission construction—in order to achieve a 20 percent retail penetration for renewable wind energy in just the Eastern Interconnection.
Promises of emissions-free power get the ball rolling, but unknowns remain.
After years of feasibility studies, lack of development funds, and escalating fuel costs across the energy spectrum, ocean energy is suddenly a very hot topic.