Democrats want FERC official meeting on carbon pricing

Source: By Jeremy Dillon, E&E News reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Six Senate Democrats called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday to host a technical conference on the viability of incorporating a carbon price into the nation’s electric markets.

The letter, led by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), throws additional weight behind a push by renewable and utility groups for FERC to better understand the impacts a carbon price could have on grid operations.

“The Commission has a rare opportunity to heed the call from a diverse set of energy stakeholders who want to develop long-term certainty in the energy market with policies that could deploy and incentivize reliable, low cost, and emissions free energy,” the group said.

Sens. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and Angus King (I-Maine) also signed the letter.

The request for a technical conference was first pitched in April by more than a dozen energy groups, including Advanced Energy Economy, the American Council on Renewable Energy and the Natural Gas Supply Association, and utilities like NextEra Energy Inc. and LS Power.

FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee has yet to weigh in on the merits of the petition. His focus, he says, had remained on the commission’s response to the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic on the electric sector.

The commission may not have much longer to demur on the issue. A series of grid operators, led by the New York Independent System Operator, have already made moves to consider how to incorporate such a fee into their energy pricing.

“We believe this issue warrants more attention from the Commission, especially in light of recent actions and statements from several grid operators,” the senators wrote.