Thought Leadership

Baker Botts Washington Recap - Episode 9

Client Updates

In the latest installment of our video series on important regulatory and legislative updates, Associate Allie Hemmings gives an update on the FERC testimony before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on September 29. 

FERC Chairman Richard Glick outlined several current areas of focus for FERC, including FERC's pending update of the 1999 natural gas certificate policy statement. Another area of focus for the Commissioners was safeguarding the reliability of the electric grid against extreme weather events and cyber security threats. Lastly, the Commissioners discussed meeting the future transmission needs by inviting public comment on potential reforms to improve transmission planning. 

 

On September 28th, all four of the sitting Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioners appeared before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.  Senator Manchin of West Virginia, the chairman of the Committee, opened the session by providing remarks that emphasized the importance of affordability and reliability in the electric industry. 

FERC Chairman Richard Glick outlined several current areas of focus for FERC, including FERC’s pending update of the 1999 natural gas certificate policy statement.  In particular, Commissioner Glick stated the need to conclude the update and to address issues such as FERC’s approach to evaluating a project’s impact on climate change and environmental justice.  Commissioner James Danly’s testimony emphasized the importance of certainty in the interstate natural gas pipeline certification approach so that companies may appropriately allocate risk and secure financing. 

Another area of focus for the Commissioners was safeguarding the reliability of the electric grid against extreme weather events and cyber security threats.  This concern was further underlined by Nevada Senator Catherine Cortez Masto’s question regarding anticipated decreases in hydropower electric production due to drought.  Later in the session, Senator Angus King of Maine questioned the Commissioners about providing greater oversight regarding cyber security and reliability standards for natural gas pipelines.

Finally, the Commissioners discussed meeting the future transmission needs by inviting public comment on potential reforms to improve transmission planning.  Commissioner Danly expressed concern that the cost of building out transmission would increase the overall cost of electricity for rate payers.  Senator Martin Henrich of New Mexico dug into this issue further by asking if FERC currently can allocate transmission costs equitably across multiple regional beneficiaries.  Commissioner Allison Clements pointed to the resilience and reliability advantages created by well-planned transmission projects that benefit all consumers. 

Overall, the Commissioners and members of the Committee across the political spectrum concurred on the need for cost-effective and reliable solutions to address the challenges of natural gas pipeline certification, grid reliability and transmission development.

 

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