Energy regulator to discuss reliability concerns from EPA climate rule

The federal agency charged with ensuring reliability of the electrical supply will host conferences on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) climate rule.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) announced the technical conferences late Tuesday, scheduled to start in February.

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“The commission clearly has a role to play in ensuring that the nation’s energy markets and infrastructure adapt to support compliance with the proposed Clean Power Plan,” FERC chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur said in a statement.

“These technical conferences will be an opportunity for the commission to hear from a wide range of stakeholders across the country on issues related to reliability, market operations, and energy infrastructure.”

The announcement came two weeks after top Republican lawmakers with energy oversight sent a letter to FERC asking for the conferences.

Reliability has been a top concern for the GOP in overseeing the rule. They fear that the EPA’s attempts to cut carbon pollution from power plants would shut down so many coal-fired power plants as to threaten the power supply.

FERC Commissioner Tony Clark, who has brought up concerns with the rule, said he was glad that the conferences are taking place.

“Should the [climate rule] survive legal challenge, states, regions, and the EPA itself will begin the complex task of creating federally enforceable implementation plans,” Clark said in his own statement.

“It is not difficult to envision scenarios in which a patchwork-quilt of implementation plans, if improperly crafted, either conflict with one another or with the Federal Power Act itself in ways that harm electric reliability and distort prices.”