Energy commissioner blasts EPA climate rule

A member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) blasted the Obama administration’s climate rule, saying it would threaten electricity reliability and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

Philip Moeller, appointed to the FERC in 2006 by President George W. Bush, said the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposal to cut carbon emissions from power plants is deeply flawed.

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“EPA's proposed rule will dramatically interfere with America's competitive market forces, perhaps resulting in even more greenhouse gases in the future,” Moeller wrote in formal comments submitted late Monday to the EPA.

He also said he is concerned that the rule’s cost “could total hundreds of billions of dollars” and threaten the reliability of the country’s electrical delivery system.

“I continue to call for a more formal and transparent process involving FERC (and not just its staff) to examine these reliability implications,” he said. “There is a need to involve electric engineering expertise for an open dialogue and debate over what changes to the grid and energy network are feasible and cost-effective in a reasonable time frame.”

The warnings in his formal comments were far more dire than what he said in July at a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the rule’s impact on reliability, which is one of FERC’s main responsibilities.

He was the most vocal opponent of the rule among FERC members, saying, “the biggest challenge in this rule, I think, is that it treats states individually for compliance. But electricity markets are fundamentally interstate in nature.”

He and other FERC members said the EPA conducted minimal outreach to his agency in crafting the proposal it released in June.

EPA spokeswoman Liz Purchia defended her agency, saying representatives have met with FERC throughout the process of developing the rule, as well as implementation of other rules that effect the power sector.

“We are committed to continue working closely with FERC and other federal agencies,” she said.