Evaluating Options for Enhancing Wholesale Competition and Implications for the Southeastern United States
Given stated stakeholder clean energy and consumer goals, this paper offers a way to evaluate options for enhancing competition, compared to how utilities traditionally operate the electricity grid. The focus here is on wholesale transactions between generators and utilities serving end-use customers. These utilities then sell electricity at retail to their customers, and in many regions including the Southeast, they are state-regulated monopolies responsible for serving their customers at least cost.
Jennifer Chen, Senior Counsel with the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University, testifies before the U.S. House of Representatives' Select Committee on the Climate Crisis on June 26, 2019, about how wholesale electricity markets regulated by FERC and operated by regional transmission organizations (RTOs) are a key puzzle piece to decarbonizing the U.S. power sector.
State Participation in Resource Adequacy Decisions in Multistate Regional Transmission Organizations
The fight over which resources power the grid and how much is required has intensified as flattening electricity demand, low natural gas prices, and preferences for non-emitting technologies push less efficient power plants to retire. The focus has been on substantive solutions, and most recently on attempting to “accommodate” state energy policies in the regional electricity markets—with disappointing results to states, consumer advocates, and clean energy businesses. Missing from this debate is process reform.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is an independent agency regulating the interstate transport of energy. As innovations and changing consumer preferences reshape the energy industry, FERC must grapple with key issues. This policy brief summarizes pending issues before FERC, including grid resilience, market reforms that would affect newer technologies and non-emitting resources, and transmission and gas pipeline infrastructure build. How FERC decides on these issues would impact consumer costs, determine which resources would receive revenues from FERC-regulated markets, help shape infrastructure investments, and affect the costs of decarbonization policies.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates wholesale capacity markets, is looking to reconcile market design with state, and potentially federal, policy preferences. In an effort to mitigate this apparent tension in the gas- and coal-heavy Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission proposed a framework on June 29 for carving out those policy-sponsored resources from PJM's capacity market. The June order poses many questions and leaves open many details for stakeholders to resolve ahead of the close of FERC’s initial round of public comments on October 2, 2018. This policy brief offers recommendations to improve the efficiency of the developing proposals and help those responding to the FERC order understand the implications of different design choices related to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's proposal.