Chatterjee, Glick feud after market changes

Source: By Rod Kuckro, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, August 12, 2019

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee and Commissioner Richard Glick are at odds as to whether a plan to ensure New England has enough electricity in the coming winters is “just and reasonable,” the legal standard the agency uses to weigh any changes to electricity markets.

The ISO New England plan took effect following a lack of quorum at the agency.

As the region’s grid operator, ISO New England proposed earlier this year to amend its market rules to offer temporary compensation for power generation resources that can store fuel on-site for use during the winters of 2023-24 and 2024-25.

The ISO’s analysis estimated its “Inventoried Energy” plan could cost consumers between $200 million and $300 million over two years, Glick pointed out in a statement yesterday.

“One cannot help but wonder whether burning that money might contribute as much to fuel security as wasting it” on payments to coal and nuclear power plants, added Glick, a Democrat. He described the program as a “windfall” for coal, nuclear and hydropower generators, “without any evidence to suggest that it will actually improve the region’s fuel security or that any improvement is likely to be worth the cost.”

Chatterjee, a Republican, disagreed, saying in a separate statement that he would have voted in favor of the ISO’s plan “as a just and reasonable short-term solution to help compensate resources that provide winter energy security and improve reliability while ISO New England develops a long-term market solution.”

The ISO’s changes to its market rules took effect Tuesday by default because FERC did not reach a quorum of at least three commissioners to vote on it (Energywire, Aug. 7).

FERC’s two other commissioners, Democrat Cheryl LaFleur and Republican Bernard McNamee, both recused themselves from the proceeding.

In identical statements yesterday, LaFleur and McNamee each said they were “not participating in this docket and therefore [are] unable to comment with respect to the changes proposed.” Neither said why, though LaFleur is poised to leave her post at the end of the month.

Chatterjee noted that without a quorum, “I was unable to fully discuss the complex issues involved in the proposal with all of my fellow Commissioners.”

He said he “was open to discussions with my colleagues regarding their positions, and would have thoughtfully considered their arguments.”

“To the extent any of those discussions raised new issues for my consideration, I would have carefully considered those matters and incorporated them into my decision-making process,” he added.

Parties have 30 days from Tuesday to seek a rehearing by FERC, said Avi Zevin, an attorney with the Institute for Policy Integrity.

As the lack of FERC action is tantamount to an order, if FERC fails to act within 30 days, parties can challenge the new rules in court, he said.