Electricity Markets

FERC sets Oct. 23 deadline for comments on DOE proposed rule

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has set a deadline of Oct. 23 for comments to be submitted to the agency on a recent Department of Energy proposal that aims to preserve “fuel-secure” generation and requires FERC to issue a related final rule.

Secretary of Energy Rick Perry on Sept. 28 directed FERC to issue a final rule that would require organized wholesale power markets to “develop and implement market rules that accurately price generation resources necessary to maintain the reliability and resiliency” of the country’s bulk power system.

The DOE is focused on the need to preserve “fuel-secure” generation as a way in which to guard against threats to the reliability and resiliency of the power grid and it therefore wants to allow for the recovery of costs of those units.

In a letter related to the proposal, Perry directed FERC to take final action on the proposal within 60 days of publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register or, in the alternative, to issue the rule as an interim rule immediately, with provision for later modifications after consideration of public comments.

Along with setting an initial comment deadline of Oct. 23, FERC said that reply comments would be due no later than Nov. 7 (Docket No. RM18-1-000).

Energy groups seek more time to file comments

In an Oct. 3 filing with FERC, several energy industry associations including the American Public Power Association submitted a motion for extension of time for filing comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking released by the Secretary of Energy and docketed by the Commission. The associations also submitted the motion to Perry.

The groups argued that the time frame for comments provided in the notice “is far too short to allow stakeholders to submit careful analysis on this complex and significant rulemaking. The Energy Industry Associations urge the Commission to extend the comment period consistent with the normal deliberative process that it typically affords such major undertakings.”

They said an extension of time to file comments in the proceeding would allow for meaningful public input from all stakeholders, including from energy market participants, grid operators, regulators and consumers, and would provide the Commission with more detailed and carefully considered comments that would “help ensure that it can make a reasoned decision in this matter based on the best-available information.”

Given the importance and complexity of this issue, the associations recommended that FERC provide 90 days for interested parties to provide initial comments on the NOPR and 45 days for reply comments. “At a minimum, the Commission should provide for a comment period of not less than 60 days,” they said.

“To be clear, even a 60-day initial comment period and 45-day reply comment period would be insufficient to allow interested parties to adequately respond to the proposed rule; therefore, we encourage the Commission to adopt extended deadlines for these comments that are more commensurate with the stakes of this proceeding and are at least the same duration that the Commission typically affords such matters of this importance,” the groups added.

The other energy groups signing on to this motion were: the Advanced Energy Economy, American Biogas Council, American Council on Renewable Energy, American Petroleum Institute, American Wind Energy Association, Business Council for Sustainable Energy, Electric Power Supply Association, Electricity Consumers Resource Council, Energy Storage Association, Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Natural Gas Supply Association and Solar Energy Industries Association.

Groups had urged FERC to forego interim final rule

On the same day of the FERC notice seeking comments, the energy industry associations had urged the agency not to implement the DOE proposal as an interim final rule and to provide more time for public comment.

Perry’s letter “requests an aggressive time frame” for consideration of the NOPR, the Association and several other energy trade associations said in an Oct. 2 joint motion filed at FERC.

The trade groups said that the DOE proposal did not justify its suggestion that FERC should issue an interim final rule within the narrow provision for such rules in the Administrative Procedure Act, or APA, “and as a result, the Commission should not pursue this alternative.”

FERC’s Oct. 2 notice did not indicate that the commission considered the motion filed by the energy groups and proposes a much shorter comment period than requested by the Association and the other energy groups.

At the same time, the FERC notice apparently means that FERC does not intend to proceed with an interim final rule.