Senate Dems press FERC on rumored subsidy shift

Source: By Geof Koss, E&E News reporter • Posted: Friday, August 30, 2019

Senate Democrats are urging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission not to proceed with a rumored policy shift that they say would undercut Mid-Atlantic states’ efforts to support clean energy sources.

In a letter sent today to FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee, 10 Democrats expressed “significant concerns” over a Minimum Offer Price Rule that they say would supersede existing rules that allow state-backed clean energy sources to participate in the PJM Interconnection capacity market.

Citing a recent study, the Democrats say the policy could raise electricity rates for as many as 65 million consumers in 13 states by as much as $5.7 billion annually — or 60% compared with the current capacity market.

“Needlessly increasing electricity prices for the millions served by PJM would be unacceptable, and state-level policies that support carbon-free electricity generation should not be harmed through federal overreach,” wrote the Democrats, who include Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Environment and Public Works ranking member Tom Carper of Delaware.

“Any action taken by FERC with respect to state policies must provide a meaningful and affordable option to support job-creating clean energy technologies,” they wrote. “Accordingly, we strongly urge FERC to reconsider this policy shift and refrain from taking any action that could raise electricity prices or frustrate state efforts to address climate change.”

The letter comes one day before the departure of FERC Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur, whose vacancy will leave the five-member commission with a 2-1 Republican majority.

“On multiple occasions, the Republican FERC commissioners have cited their concerns regarding state policies that support electricity generation from clean sources of energy,” the senators wrote.