Thursday, January 22, 2015

FERC's No Regard for Common Sense Boundaries in Transmission Siting

My Father In Law used to laugh and tell my wife, "It's no wonder nobody likes you".  So is the case with the Federal Energy Commission.  It's been said they are a rubberstamp machine, willing to approve any pipeline projects.  (BTW, the Video is hilarious)



The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates boat dock fees in the Ozarks.  This is an interesting website called CURB-FERC.  Looks like a classic example of the federal government entering every aspect of our lives.   Does anyone else see  FERC regulating boat dock fees in the Ozarks as ridiculous governmental bureaucracy that is need of discipline and restraint?

Maybe we need to form a Federal Boat Dock Commission to regulate all boat docks.  Maybe the EPA will start regulating boats in Minnesota next under the Clean Water Act.    (sarcasm)

Maybe the Corp of Engineers should take over boat dock siting on the Mississippi River System. (sarcasm)

Maybe FERC should get back to it's core Mission Statement and control energy costs and supervise grid reliability. (reality check)

With so many pipeline projects being thrown at FERC competing for attention and a race to proceed through the regulatory process, it will be interesting if FERC approves all of them and continues to deny a review of need.



Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Mission
Reliable, Efficient, and Sustainable Energy for Consumers
Assist consumers in obtaining reliable, efficient, and sustainable energy services at a reasonable cost through appropriate regulatory and market means

Fulfilling this mission involves pursuing two primary goals:

1.  Ensure that rates, terms and conditions are just, reasonable, and not unduly discriminatory or preferential.
2. Promote the development of safe, reliable, and efficient energy infrastructure that serves the public’s interest.



With so many pipeline projects being thrown at FERC competing for attention and a race to proceed through the regulatory process, it will be interesting if FERC approves all of them and continues to deny a review of need.  It will be interesting to watch FERC going forward as Merchant Transmission Projects like those proposed by Clean Line Energy Partners llc are allowed to bypass the Regional Transmission Organization's planning process to ask for FERC's consent without the RTO showing there is a need. 

It's about common sense boundaries, rather than an engulf and devour federal government.  There is a place for the RTO's in the siting process.  There is a place for the state's utility commission in the siting process.  No company should be allowed to bypass the RTO's review or bypass the state's review in the siting process.  Look at the Department of Energy's Section 1222 where the Administration is allowed to approve transmission projects with federal eminent domain authority based on political agendas.  

Going forward, how can RTO's, like PJM,  properly plan if the plans must be adjusted when FERC approves projects without the RTO's consent.  Transmission companies with see the advantages of going to Mama FERC before asking Papa PJM for consent.  There is an order to the process.  Nothing good came from from FERC overstepping the RTO's in the planning process.  Transmission siting will become even more political than it is now.  

While there is no mechanism at the RTO's for community or ratepayer involvement, maybe it's not the RTO's that fear the people.  Maybe it's FERC that fears the people.  Transmission siting is a broken process but the solution is not letting Merchant Transmission Lines to bypass the Regional Transmission Organizations and force them to deal with the projects last.     



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