On December 5, 2013, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power held a hearing entitled “Evaluating the Role of FERC in a Changing Energy Landscape.”  The hearing focused on the legal and regulatory authority of FERC and the manner in which FERC has carried out its statutory duties.  All four of FERC’s current commissioners testified at the hearing.  Among other issues, the hearing addressed: FERC’s coordination with the EPA regarding EPA’s new and proposed regulations, liquid natural gas siting, the implementation of Order No. 1000 for transmission operations and planning, protection from physical and cyber attacks, and market manipulation.

While each Commissioner addressed various questions from subcommittee members, the individual Commissioners focused on a particular area of FERC during his or her opening remarks.  Acting Chairman Cheryl LaFleur focused on reliability and grid security.  LaFleur touted the recently approved Version 5 Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standards as “a significant step forward for cybersecurity” (see November 22, 2013 edition of the WER) and stated that reliability of the grid has improved or remained steady in recent years.

Commissioner Philip Moeller’s opening remarks focused on a number of issues, including gas/electric coordination.  Moeller highlighted the recently released gas/electric information sharing order (see November 22, 2013 edition of WER) and his hope that the order will provide certainty and help prevent disruptions.  He also testified that FERC is examining whether or not to align various areas of the gas and electric trading days to gain more efficiency. 

Commissioner John Norris testified on the current and future landscape of electric infrastructure.  Norris highlighted the change in electric infrastructure brought on by natural gas, renewable energy, improved technologies and environmental regulations.  He stated that the nation’s grid is continuing to draw significant investment that allows for the implementation of more advanced technologies to increase the generation and consumption of energy.

Commissioner Tony Clark testified on the increased supply and use of natural gas, and the affect it will have on natural gas infrastructure.  Commissioner Clark noted that the recent boon in shale natural gas production has led to a total investment in gas infrastructure of over $18 billion, as well as 3,427 miles of new pipeline that is already in-service or in the FERC permitting process.  Clark also noted that the increased production of shale natural gas has led to 13 proposed LNG export terminals, and called for other agencies to assist FERC in the siting process by completing their reviews in an expeditious manner.

Copies of the opening statements of Acting Chairman LeFleur and Commissioners Moeller, Norris, and Clark are available here, here, here, and here, respectively.  Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield’s opening statement is available here, and Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton’s opening statement is available here.  Ranking Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee Henry Waxman’s opening statement is available here.  A link to the archived hearing is available here.