What federal regulators should do to ensure security, reliability, and cleaner air in our nation’s capital.
Sheila Hollis and Ilia Levitine are partners in the energy practice group at Duane Morris LLP. Contact Hollis at firstname.lastname@example.org and Levitine at Ilevitine@duanemorris.com. All views expressed in this article are solely those of the authors and do not represent the views of Duane Morris LLP, any of its clients, or other entities or persons.
The District of Columbia Public Service Commission (DCPSC) successfully has used two little known provisions in the Federal Power Act (FPA) to prevent an aging generating plant crucial to the national capital region’s reliability from being abruptly shut down by Virginia’s environmental regulators. In the end, the immediate threat to the region’s reliability was obviated while the environmental concerns associated with the plant were not ignored. But just as important, the DCPSC action resulted in a model for how federal energy regulators and environmental regulators can address similar problems in the future.
The DCPSC effort began on Aug. 24, 2005, when Mirant Corp. announced that, by midnight on the same day, it would temporarily halt power production at its Potomac River Generating Station plant located in Alexandria, Va. The company said it took extraordinary action because it was unable to meet the deadline established by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (VDEQ) to eliminate modeled National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) exceedances in the immediate area surrounding the plant.