Whitehouse, Markey, Welch, Levin Lead Call for Further Action on Key FERC Renewables Rule

Eighteen Senators urge FERC to finalize guidance on a rule to improve energy market competition and lower prices for consumers

 

Washington, DC – Eighteen Senators, led by Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Edward J. Markey (D-MA), are calling for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to finalize guidance on a rule to grow a more flexible and resilient grid by allowing Americans to connect their rooftop solar, wind, and energy storage devices to the electrical grid. Reducing energy market barriers for distributed energy resources (DERs) will increase the security and resiliency of the grid and potentially lower costs for consumers. Whitehouse and Markey have previously led colleagues in pressing the FERC to finalize this guidance to establish proper technology-neutral market rules. Congressmen Peter Welch (D-VT) and Mike Levin (D-CA) are leading the companion to this letter in the House.

 

“FERC has the opportunity and authority to ensure that proper technology-neutral market rules are put forward to reduce barriers for DER participation in our grid,” the Senators write in a letter to FERC. “The changes proposed in the DER rulemaking will not only help improve the reliability and resilience of the bulk power system by providing operators with new local tools to manage unanticipated events, but potentially lower costs for consumers. We are encouraged by Chairman Chatterjee’s recent comments where he empathized the role that innovation and new technologies will play in improving the function of our grid.”

 

Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-NV), Jack Reed (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Angus King (I-ME), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Tina Smith (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) joined Whitehouse and Markey in signing the letter.

 

Text of the Senators’ letter is below. A PDF copy is available here.

 

 

February 11, 2019

 

The Honorable Neil Chatterjee

Chairman

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

888 First Street NE

Washington, DC 20426

 

Re: Docket No. RM18-9-000

 

Dear Chairman Chatterjee:

 

Over the past two years, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has made significant progress to improve energy market competition by removing barriers for the participation of advanced renewable energy technologies.  In February 2017, FERC took a significant step forward by issuing Order No. 841, which requires that Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (RTOs/ISOs) open their markets to full participation by energy storage resources.

 

Simultaneously, FERC established further procedures to gather additional data to inform a similar rulemaking to require RTOs/ISOs to open their markets to participation by aggregations of distributed energy resources (DERs).  We write today to urge you to continue to build on the important progress made in Order No. 841, by finalizing FERC’s rulemaking on aggregated DER participation in the RTO/ISO energy markets. 

 

As you know, the original proposal to open the RTO/ISO markets to aggregated DERs was made over two years ago in November 2016.  FERC held a technical conference to gather additional information on April 10-11, 2018. After the technical conference, a group of 16 Senators sent a letter urging final action on this rule.[1]  On July 17, 2018, then-Chairman McIntyre responded to indicate that FERC was “diligently reviewing the record” in order to ensure DER participation in wholesale markets.  Since then, DER adoption and renewable energy aggregation have continued to grow in the United States, with renewable energy providing a record 10% of electricity generation in 2018.[2]  This is driven not only by state and federal policies, but consumer interest in choosing cost-competitive technologies such as rooftop solar, smart thermostats, and customer-sited energy generation and storage.

 

FERC has the opportunity and authority to ensure that proper technology-neutral market rules are put forward to reduce barriers for DER participation in our grid.  The changes proposed in the DER rulemaking will not only help improve the reliability and resilience of the bulk power system by providing operators with new local tools to manage unanticipated events, but potentially lower costs for consumers.  We are encouraged by Chairman Chatterjee’s recent comments where he emphasized the role that innovation and new technologies will play in improving the function of our grid.  Chairman Chatterjee specifically cited the role that DERs will play in our continued grid transition.[3] 

 

Thus, we urge FERC to adopt a final rule as soon as possible that enables all DERs the opportunity to participate in RTO/ISO wholesale markets.  We would appreciate an update on your efforts no later than March 1, 2019. 

 

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