FERC aims to fix the grid’s renewable energy backlog. Can it?
Data from the Department of Energy shows that the network upgrade costs in some parts of the United States are rising sharply. Yet clean energy advocates say that the commission’s proposed rule would not meaningfully address that problem.
“Network upgrades are costing, in some cases, an order of magnitude more than they should,” said Devin Hartman, director of energy and environmental policy at the R Street Institute, a pro-free-markets think tank. “A lot of folks in the know are so concerned that FERC is going to come out with a rule, pat themselves on the back, and not much is going to get better because the most important reforms are not in the [proposed rule].”
FERC’s final rule could ultimately be significantly different than the proposal issued last June. Celeste Miller, a spokesperson for the commission, said in a statement last week that the commission was “thoroughly reviewing all comments” on its proposed rule and that Phillips was committed to addressing grid connection challenges.
“My highest priority in the near term is to finalize a proposed rule that will greatly improve our processes for interconnecting new electric generating resources, reducing the time it takes to bring those resources online,” Phillips said during a hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in May.
In the meantime, Hartman said a coalition of consumer groups, clean energy developers and others are lobbying FERC to change several elements of its proposed rule. The group is planning to send a letter to the commission next week.
“The main theme of it is that the [proposal] FERC put out there is underwhelming,” said Hartman, who previously worked at the agency.