On September 14, 2017, the Subcommittee on Energy of the United States House of Representatives Committee on Energy and Commerce held a hearing on defining reliability in a transforming electricity industry.  During the hearing, committee members raised concerns about reliability and grid transformation in the face of cybersecurity threats and extreme weather.  FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee testified at the hearing that FERC would continue its role in ensuring “world-class reliability” during this grid transformation. 

Chairman Chatterjee’s testimony came as part of a panel testifying on the committee’s “Powering America” series.  Rep. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) asked Chairman Chatterjee to discuss FERC’s compensation strategies regarding coal-fire baseload generation.  Chairman Chatterjee noted that “the Commission is fuel-neutral,” which he explained meant that, “[FERC] will look to ensure that . . . we evaluate the attributes of fuel sources to what values they provide and see if there is a demonstrated need for reliability, whether or not those things can be compensated.”  Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), a representative from Virginia, asked where proper compensation in wholesale markets fell on FERC’s priority list.  In response, Mr. Chatterjee flagged the issue as a “high” priority.

Also at issue was the growing concern over impacts from extreme weather events, such as recent Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, on grid reliability.  Several committee members questioned how such events will continue to impact domestic energy infrastructure.  All panel members, including Patricia Hoffman, Acting Assistant Secretary of Energy (Office of Electricity Delivery & Energy) and Gerry Cauley, President and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, agreed that grid design must contemplate the potential effects of these events.  Additionally, Chairman Chatterjee noted the importance of FERC’s role in ensuring a reliable and resilient grid when he stated, “as our grid transforms for the future, . . . we ensure that we can bounce back from these types of events and have really reliable and resilient grid.”

A link to prepared testimony and statements at the hearing is available here.