FERC, NARUC Launch Forum on Reliability, Environment

WASHINGTON—Federal and State energy regulators will launch a Forum to explore reliability issues stemming from new and pending environmental rules for the power sector.

The Forum, consisting of membership from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), will coincide with NARUC’s three yearly meetings. NARUC is the national organization representing State public service commissioners.

The first meeting of the FERC-NARUC Forum on Reliability and the Environment will take place Feb. 7 during the NARUC Winter Committee Meetings in Washington. FERC Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur and Philip Moeller will be the Federal co-chairs of the workshops, and NARUC First Vice President Philip Jones of Washington and Treasurer David Ziegner of Indiana will be the State co-chairs.

FERC and NARUC initiated the Forum as part of an effort to determine how prepared the electric utility industry will be to meet upcoming rules and requirements on emissions reductions. With significant investment predicted in utility infrastructure predicted over the next several years, the Forum will let Federal and State regulators discuss these issues in an open and transparent venue.

“An essential part of our work as regulators is to assure that Americans have reliable electric service as our nation goes through significant power supply changes,” Commissioner LaFleur said. “The Forum will seek to help ensure that both regulators and system planners have the tools to respond to local and regional reliability issues while meeting new environmental requirements.”

“Meeting in a formalized session with our State regulatory colleagues on a regular schedule is a great way to stay up on the reliability issues that will evolve as the industry works to comply with new environmental rules,” said Commissioner Moeller. “To be prepared to deal with any reliability or infrastructure issues that arise, we must be fully informed, and this is an excellent way to do that.”

The workshops follow a recent NARUC resolution that called for a dialogue among FERC, the States and the Environmental Protection Agency to allow for a meaningful assessment and response to reliability issues.

“Job Number One of a State regulator is to assure reliable electricity service is provided at a reasonable price,” said NARUC President David Wright of South Carolina. “These workshops are a good first step toward helping identify potential problems and develop solutions as we move forward. I thank my colleagues at FERC for working together with us, because resolving any concerns will take a collaborative approach between Federal and State regulators.”

“With the significant amount of investment needed in the utility infrastructure regardless, these workshops will give all of us an opportunity to discuss the critical issues the utility sector faces,” said First Vice President Jones. “Many States have taken steps in preparation of Federal environmental rules, so this Forum will allow us to learn from what has already been done. It will also give State commissioners an opportunity to bring the concerns of our consumers to a higher level.”

“I am pleased to work with our Federal colleagues on these important issues,” said Treasurer Ziegner. “Given the diverse nature of our electricity industry, States will be impacted by the environmental rules in different ways. Bringing FERC commissioners and State regulators together, in an open forum, is absolutely essential. I look forward to engaging in these conversations.”

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