12/17/09: FERC news and more

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A few tidbits from FERC:

Implementing its new smart grid policy for the first time, the Commission approved PG&E's recovery a portion of its costs in transmission rates for a regional project that will ensure electric power reliability for consumers and integrate variable renewable resources into its system.

In LNG news, FERC approved the 1 Bcf/day Jordan Cove LNG facility to be located in the North Spit of Coos Bay in Coos County, Oregon. The Commission also reaffirmed its approval of the AES Sparrows Point facility in Maryland, despite late-filing interveners' attempt to require a supplemental environmental impact statement. Notably, the votes on both docket items were 3-1 in favor, with Chairman Wellinghoff dissenting.

FERC continues to refine its enforcement procedures. The Commission released its 2009 Report on Enforcement (42 page PDF), noting that its 2010 enforcement priorities include fraud, market manipulation, and reliability. FERC also improved transparency in enforcement, by authorizing the Secretary of the Commission to issue a “Staff’s Preliminary Notice of Violations” after the subject of an investigation has had an opportunity to respond to staff’s preliminary findings letter. The Commission hopes this will provide feedback to both the regulated community and the public on what kinds of things the Commission is investigating.

Vice President Biden continues to take the lead on energy policy matters. He is promoting a $5 billion increase in tax breaks established last February for clean energy manufacturing. The program would award a 30% tax credit to new or expanded factories that make products such as wind turbines, solar panels, and electric vehicles. Will Congress go for this?

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