On October 7, 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or the “Commission”) announced that it will hold a Commissioner-led Technical Conference to address the reliability of the Bulk-Power System and emerging issues, including reliability concerns which may arise in complying with Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) regulations, along with tools to address these issues.

The conference will be held at FERC’s Washington headquarters on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 from 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm and Wednesday, November 30, 2011 from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm.  Neither an agenda nor a participant list has been announced.

The Commission has recently come under pressure from certain Members of Congress over its handling of the reliability impact of current and pending EPA power plant rules.  In particular, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), ranking member on the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has repeatedly questioned the Commission and individual Commissioners about their coordination with EPA and whether FERC should be doing more to study the reliability impacts of the rules. (See September 23, 2011 edition of the WER). Most recently, Senator Murkowski requested that the Commission work with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation to undertake a six-month formal process to address reliability impacts of the EPA rules in a “fair and transparent manner.”  Senator Murkowski’s most recent inquires came after all five members of the Commission testified before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power regarding the impact of the current and pending EPA utility regulations and faced sometimes intense questioning from certain members of the subcommittee regarding FERC’s role in the EPA rulemaking process.  The House testimony suggested a disagreement between the Commissioners regarding whether FERC should be doing more to understand the reliability impacts of the EPA rules before they are finalized.  (See September 16, 2011 edition of the WER). 

A copy of FERC’s Notice of Technical Conference is available here.