On January 19, 2012, FERC denied a petition by the Public Service Commission of South Carolina and the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff to form a federal-state joint board to study the impact of Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) regulations on the reliability and affordability of electric power, but pointed to upcoming events where those issues will be discussed.

The South Carolina petition expressed concern about the “potential effects of [the] EPA regulations on the quality, reliability, and cost of electric service…” and asked FERC to establish one or more regional joint boards to study the issue.  The petition was submitted pursuant to Section 209 of the Federal Power Act, which allows the Commission to establish joint boards to study any “matter arising in the administration” of Part II of the Federal Power Act, and was supported by the state commissions from South Dakota, Wyoming, West Virginia, North Carolina, Louisiana, and Texas. 

In denying the petition, the Commission suggested that the petitioners had failed to identify any matter currently before the Commission that was “cognizable” under Part II of the FPA.  The Commission, however, pointed to a recent technical conference and an upcoming joint “forum” FERC will be holding with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, established “to explore reliability issues stemming from new and pending environmental rules for the power sector.” (See January 9, 2012 edition of the WER).

Accompanying the order was a strongly-worded concurring statement from Commissioner Moeller, stating that while the Commission is not legally obligated to form a joint board, the Commission “can still respond to South Carolina’s request in a manner that is productive.”  Moeller called for an increased commitment to “overcoming the obstacles that have now been imposed on the reliable operation of the power grid” and for parties responsible for reliability to work together in an open and transparent manner.

A link to the Commission order is available here.