In an ideal world, our electricity system would run on 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Moving toward that goal means transitioning away from a system of centralized, fossil fuel power plants, to an intelligent, efficient, networked energy grid that smoothly integrates vastly increased amounts of renewables and energy-efficient solutions.
To do that, we have to balance the intermittency of renewables with our steady need for electricity. That’s where natural gas comes in: When the sun stops shining or the wind stops blowing and renewables are offline, gas-fired plants can ramp up more quickly and efficiently than coal plants.
Many policymakers, regulators and industry members believe we have to build thousands of miles of new pipelines costing $150 billion or more to feed this need. But that could be an unnecessary and expensive mistake, not just now but over a very long term. Read More
You’ve probably heard the saying “life is a journey,” but this could not be more true for EPSA v. FERC, the landmark demand response case clean energy experts have been eyeing for more than a year as it’s made its way through the U.S. legal system.
Starting in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals back in May 2014, EPSA v. FERC (also known as the “FERC Order 745 case”) now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court where, today, it was given new life when the Justices accepted the U.S. Solicitor General’s request for review submitted on behalf of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). Review was granted on both petitions, which have been consolidated, by FERC and Enernoc, et. al, case numbers 14-840 and 14-841. The Supreme Court granted review to both central questions, one about FERC’s authority and a second about challenges to central provisions to the order providing for fair valuation of demand response. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with a broad coalition of consumer advocates and environmental groups, supported FERC’s petition before the Supreme Court earlier this year and will continue to do so as the matter is reviewed by the high Court.
The decision to review the case is great news for demand response, a voluntary energy conservation tool that relies on people and technology, not power plants, to affordably meet our country’s rising electricity needs. It’s also a welcome sign for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – the government entity tasked with ensuring our electric rates are ‘just and reasonable’ – and anyone in favor of cleaner, more reliable, lower-cost energy. Read More
Earlier this week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with 11 other environmental and consumer groups, joined forces in asking the Supreme Court to hear an important case involving an energy resource that saves families and businesses money, improves electric grid reliability, and reduces carbon emissions: demand response. We’ve written a lot about demand response and the federal case that could determine its future (also known as EPSA v. FERC or the FERC Order 745 case), and for good reason – the legal and policy frameworks governing demand response are critical to our clean energy future.
Simply put, demand response relies on people and technology, not just power plants, to meet electricity demand. It balances stress on the electric grid by reducing demand for electricity, rather than increasing supply. This makes our grid more efficient, reduces harmful air emissions from fossil fuel plants, and keeps electricity prices lower.
And these aren’t small savings – demand response cumulatively saves customers billions of dollars that would otherwise go toward more costly polluting resources. In 2013 alone, for example, demand response saved customers in the mid-Atlantic region $11.8 billion. Read More
Over the past several months, we’ve been providing updates on the ongoing litigation surrounding Order 745 – a vital, federal rule on demand response. As a low-cost, environmentally beneficial resource, demand response relies on people and technology, not power plants, to manage stress on the electric grid during periods of peak energy demand. Simply put, demand response pays people to conserve energy when it matters most – a win-win for people and the environment.
But this critical energy management tool has also been subject to an amazing amount of scrutiny (which we’ve covered here, here, and yes, here, as well). In short, the thorny issue boils down to this: a recent court decision found that the federal agency responsible for regulating demand response didn’t have the authority to do so.
When the decision came down, many were shocked. The general assumption had been that this agency (known as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or “FERC”) certainly was within its rights to issue Order 745, a set of rules for how demand response would function in our nation’s energy markets.
And last week, the United States Solicitor General sided with the “general consensus” on Order 745. Read More
How much does the design of America’s energy market affect the environment? More than one might expect.
Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency responsible for regulating the wholesale natural gas and electricity markets, issued a proposed policy statement designed to encourage pipeline operators to replace their leakiest equipment: compressor stations. Reciprocating compressors are an essential part of the nation’s gas delivery system. They help move natural gas through cross-country pipelines to utilities that then deliver the fuel to its end customer. A challenge, however, is that aging compressor stations are more likely to leak as they help pump the gas to its final destination, and hundreds of these units have not been updated since the 1940’s. These leak-prone units are one of the largest sources of methane emissions —a potent greenhouse gas that can also cause explosions in some cases.
The cost to replace just one “vintage” unit can be tens of millions of dollars — one reason pipeline operators have been slow to update this equipment. Fortunately, FERC’s new proposal would provide a pathway for pipelines operators to recover the significant cost of refitting their systems with modern, safer, and more efficient compressors. Read More
By: James T. B. Tripp, EDF Senior Counsel
America’s electricity industry – the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. – is at the heart of some of the world’s biggest environmental challenges, especially climate change. Given this connection, you would think an agency called the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would take into account the major environmental consequences of its policies, which fundamentally shape the U.S. power industry. Sadly, you would be wrong.
FERC is charged by law with ensuring wholesale rates and other critical aspects of the electricity industry, such as transmission practices, are “just and reasonable.” Yet FERC’s official policy is to exclude environmental considerations from its regulation of the industry. Why? FERC’s reasoning is based on a combination of questionable statutory interpretation and an approach to energy regulation that is stuck in the past. In fact, FERC’s statutory mandate over wholesale electricity sales and transmission dates back to the 1930s, long before scientists discovered climate change. Read More