A look at issues facing the commission for the coming year.
Bruce W. Radford is publisher of Public Utilities Fortnightly.
Early last month, when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) released the agenda for its December 15 decisional meeting—the last one for the year—one item in particular was notable for its absence.
That item was a remand order that FERC still owes to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals now more than two years after Judge Posner issued his famous opinion in August 2009 in Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC. In that case, the court had asked the commission to better defend its April 2007 opinion ratifying PJM’s policy of postage-stamp pricing for new regional transmission lines of 500 kV and above. The court wanted FERC to explain why ratepayers across the entire PJM footprint (from Chicago to the Atlantic Ocean) should be forced to pay for a group of four grid projects that were planned primarily to serve reliability needs focusing on Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.
But with last summer’s issuance of FERC Order 1000, which required grid planners to fashion regional cost allocation rules and to take account of renewable energy needs and other state and federal policies, perhaps the Illinois remand holds less interest than before, as the federal courts soon might take aim at another example of agency overreach.
Yet FERC’s critics should watch what they wish for.