Grid talk takes over the Hill

Source: Sam Mintz, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, October 2, 2017

Three House hearings will examine the electric grid this week, days after a bold move by Energy Secretary Rick Perry aimed at boosting coal and nuclear plants with the goal of increasing grid reliability and resilience.

Perry on Friday called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to require the electricity markets it oversees to make new rules that would compensate “fuel-secure” generation sources — primarily coal and nuclear plants — the theory being that doing so will increase the grid’s reliability (Greenwire, Sept. 29).

But some observers have challenged that premise, saying the definitions of terms like resilience and reliability — not to mention the best ways to accomplish them — are up for debate.

The proposed rulemaking follows an earlier DOE staff report that was much-anticipated but ultimately concluded that the grid was operating reliably and remained relatively neutral on the different fuel types (Greenwire, Aug. 24).

Weighing in this week on the Hill will be almost two dozen advocates and experts from essentially every angle — representatives from nearly every energy technology industry, watchdogs, scientists, corporate energy executives and state government officials.

The marquee event is a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing that was rescheduled due to the fallout from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. It will feature testimony from top leaders in the coal, oil and gas, wind, nuclear, solar, energy storage and hydropower industries, who are sure to have a wide range of opinions.

Schedule: The Science, Space and Technology hearing on grid resilience is Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 10 a.m. in 2318 Rayburn.

Witnesses: William Sanders, head of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, University of Illinois; Carl Imhoff, manager of the electricity market sector, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Gavin Dillingham, clean energy policy program director, Houston Advanced Research Center; and Walt Baum, executive director, Texas Public Power Association.

Schedule: The Energy and Commerce hearing on grid reliability is Tuesday, Oct. 3, at 2 p.m. in 2123 Rayburn.

Witnesses: Paul Bailey, CEO, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity; Marty Durbin, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, American Petroleum Institute; Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association; Maria Korsnick, CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute; John Moore, director of the Sustainable FERC Project, Natural Resources Defense Council; Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO, Solar Energy Industries Association; Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO, Energy Storage Association; and Steve Wright, general manager, Chelan County Public Utility District in Washington state.

Schedule: The Energy and Commerce hearing on consumer perspectives on electricity markets is Thursday, Oct. 5, at 10 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn.

Witnesses: Joseph Bowring, president, Monitoring Analytics; Stefanie Brand, director, New Jersey Division of the Rate Counsel; John Hughes, president and CEO, Electricity Consumers Resource Council; Tyson Slocum, director, Public Citizen Energy Program; Rebecca Tepper, chairwoman, Consumer Liaison Group for the ISO New England Region; and Mark Vanderhelm, vice president of energy, Walmart.