Senate and House Committee Leaders Seek Answers from FERC Commissioners on Agency Coordination, Grid Reliability Concerns

December 22, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the senior Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, along with House Republican leaders on energy policy, today sent letters to the individual members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) seeking information on their knowledge of consultations between FERC and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan and other major rules impacting the reliability of the nation’s power system.

The letter, which was also signed by House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, R-MI; and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-KY; follows up on the request the group sent last month to FERC Chairman Cheryl LaFleur.

That earlier letter asked that FERC convene a technical conference with federal agencies and stakeholders on the challenges posed by new federal environmental regulations to grid reliability. FERC earlier this month announced it would convene a series of technical conferences around the country, starting in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 19.

The members’ requests follow a recent report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) raising concerns about the lack of analysis of EPA’s plan to impose tighter environmental restrictions on power plants and its potential impact on the reliability of the nation’s electric grid.

Testimony from FERC commissioners at separate Senate and House hearings also suggests EPA did not adequately consult FERC in writing its proposed rule and ignored recommendations from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that a formal, documented process be established among relevant federal agencies to monitor reliability challenges.

Today’s letter was sent to Commissioners Philip Moeller, Tony Clark, Norman Bay, and Colette Honorable.

“This letter is to request that each of you review the attached correspondence and provide your views on these matters, especially to the extent that they may supplement or elaborate upon the Dec. 3 correspondence and the attachments,” the members wrote to the commissioners. “As we see it, FERC testimony before Congress, comments made by commissioners, documents previously produced that reflect the interactions of FERC staff with EPA staff, as well as the lists of meetings attached to the Dec. 3 correspondence suggests an apparent pattern of limited substantive FERC input in the development of EPA rules.”

In addition to their own viewpoints on the correspondence with Chairman LeFleur, Murkowski and the other members requested answers to seven additional questions focused on the participation of FERC in the development of the Clean Power Plan. The letter asks for the FERC commissioners’ responses by Jan. 12, 2015.