Industry, govt. heavyweights to brief lawmakers on grid study

Source: Sam Mintz, E&E News reporter • Posted: Monday, September 11, 2017

Major players from the energy industry and the federal government are scheduled to testify this week at a House hearing on electric grid reliability and the Department of Energy’s recent study on the issue.

Almost every major energy technology is represented on the witness list, with appearances scheduled from leaders in the coal, solar, oil, wind, nuclear, hydropower and energy storage sectors.

Perhaps the headliner, however, is Neil Chatterjee, the recently installed chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, who will be making his first official appearance on the Hill as a representative of the agency.

Democrats on the Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy will likely want to press Chatterjee about his recent comments on coal, which raised eyebrows among observers and analysts (Greenwire, Aug. 15).

The Kentuckian and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on an official agency podcast that “baseload” power sources like coal and nuclear are important to the country’s fuel mix and should be “properly compensated.”

Critics shot back that singling out coal and nuclear for support would go against the agency’s mandate to ensure “just and reasonable” rates for energy consumers.

Another hot topic tomorrow will be the grid study released last month by DOE. Representatives from the various industries will have different takes on the report, which said the grid was operating reliably despite transformative changes in energy technology and markets (Energywire, Aug. 24).

DOE official Patricia Hoffman, the acting assistant secretary of the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, is also scheduled to testify.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee planned to hold also a hearing on the electric grid but postponed it in response to Hurricane Irma. The panel has yet to set a new time.

Schedule: The hearing is Tuesday, Sept. 12, at 10 a.m. in 2123 Rayburn.

Witnesses: Paul Bailey, CEO, American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity; Gerry Cauley, CEO, North American Electric Reliability Corp.; Neil Chatterjee, chairman, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; Kyle Davis, regulatory affairs manager, Enel Green Power North America; Marty Durbin, executive vice president and chief strategy officer, American Petroleum Institute; Patricia Hoffman, acting undersecretary for science and acting assistant secretary for the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, Department of Energy; Tom Kiernan, CEO, American Wind Energy Association; Maria Korsnick, CEO, Nuclear Energy Institute; Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO, Energy Storage Association; Susan Tierney, senior adviser, Analysis Group; and Steve Wright, general manager, Chelan County Public Utility District.