On December 9, 2014, FERC announced that it would hold a series of technical conferences to discuss what implications are involved with a variety of compliance approaches used to satisfy the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan rule.  The technical conferences will begin on February 19, 2015 and generally focus on issues related to electric reliability, wholesale electric markets and operations, and energy infrastructure. 

FERC noted that specific discussion topics will include:

  • Whether state utility and environmental regulators, regulated entities, and others have the appropriate tools to identify reliability and/or market issues;
  • Potential strategies for complying with the EPA regulations and coordinating with FERC-jurisdictional wholesale and interstate markets; and
  • How planning entities, the industry, and states coordinate reliability and infrastructure planning processes with other state and/or regional environmental compliance efforts to ensure the adequate development of new infrastructure and to manage any potential reliability and operational impacts of proposed compliance plans.

FERC added that dates for regional technical conferences, led by FERC staff, will be announced in the future.  These additional conferences will be held in Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Denver.  These regional conferences will include discussion of the potential effect of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Rule on each region’s reliability, power system operations, generator dispatch, and current and envisioned infrastructure.

Previously, Commissioner Tony Clark has voiced concern that “[s]hould the [EPA’s Clean Power Plan] survive legal challenge, states, regions, and the EPA itself will begin the complex task of creating federally enforceable implementation plans.  It is not difficult to envision scenarios in which a patchwork-quilt of implementation plans, if improperly crafted, either conflict with one another or with the Federal Power Act itself in ways that harm electric reliability and distort prices.”   Similarly, Chairman Cheryl A. LaFleur has previously stated that “[t]he Commission clearly has a role to play in ensuring that the nation’s energy markets and infrastructure adapt to support compliance with the proposed Clean Power Plan.”

A copy of the notice is available here.