Summer is still a week away and people across the country are feeling the heat already.  I share all of your concerns about what might happen this summer and what might happen going forward. 

While the specific risks vary by region, the common thread weaving through all of them is that grid reliability currently depends on a transmission system that was never designed to withstand the magnitude of extreme weather events currently bearing down on it.  It is worth underscoring that no single wholesale market design or regional resource mix or regulatory regime is unaffected or to blame for the system risk that extreme weather poses.

While reliability in the traditional Federal Power Act Section 215 sense is an important piece of the puzzle, the effort to facilitate a reliable electricity system as the resource mix changes is more complicated. The Commission is taking several actions today that contribute to this broader need to update the electricity system’s rules to accommodate current realities and ensure reliability.

E-5 and E-6

I will speak briefly to items E-5 and E-6, the Commission’s orders on CAISO’s and NYISO’s Order No. 2222 compliance proposals.  E-5 and E-6 are the result of a years-long process from rule to implementation, and I am pleased to agree with most of the determinations in each order. I appreciate that thoughtful implementation requires balance, and so while there are some determinations that cause me concern relative to Order 2222’s instructions, and those are described in my concurrence, I dissent only from the Commission’s determination in E-6 that Order No. 2222 did not require NYISO to accommodate participation by energy efficiency in its capacity market.  My concern is not specifically about energy efficiency in New York itself, but about Order No. 2222’s fundamental purpose: to clear the way for participation of all types of distributed energy resources in regional markets.  I do not believe that a decision that risks at chipping away at that clear purpose was merited in this instance.


We all have said many times that we cannot get through this moment in time unless we find a way to efficiently interconnect new, low-cost supply, so I’m really pleased we’re issuing this 5-0 order today. 

The reasons for the queue backlog are multi-pronged and complex.  Today’s proposal aims at solving this problem from many different angles and with a diverse set of tools.

We brought this effort as a Commission together, and we are asking for give and take of all stakeholders—interconnection customers, transmission providers, and affected transmission providers—in order make interconnection faster, more predictable, more cost-effective, as well as accommodating new or newer technologies.

The proposal was not created in a vacuum.  It takes a common-sense approach to interconnection reform that benefits from collective experience and lessons learned, including from similar proposals by individual utilities in recent times, and the NOPR acknowledges that.  It also acknowledges the lessons from The Joint Federal-State Taskforce on Electric Transmission, where we got state input on this set of topics.

I note that the Commission has benefited immensely from the input and engagement of our stakeholders.  Please continue to be specific.  Your feedback will inform where we find bounds on some of these proposals where we do not yet have full alignment.

One of those issues is operating assumptions.  I am not sure we hit the mark on our proposal for interconnection customer operating assumptions.  For example, while we propose more flexibility for electricity storage and hybrid facilities to be studied based on realistic operating assumptions, we only seek comment on whether other resources, such as solar facilities, would likewise merit reforms to reflect more realistic operating conditions.  Interconnection customers have raised concerns that existing interconnection studies use inaccurate operating assumptions that do not reflect how certain resource types will actually operate.  Using inaccurate operating assumptions may trigger network upgrades in instances when they are not needed to reliability interconnect a generating facility to the transmission system. 

I look forward to your comments and input on how resources interconnecting to the system should be modeled on a forward going basis, as well as on other issues raised in this NOPR.

E-2 and E-3

The Federal Power Act is one of my favorite statutes.  I love to talk about it and think about it.  When we think about what is going on in the world, we have to ask—what is the role of FERC under the Federal Power Act?  It is set up as a regime of cooperation.  From my perspective, the role of FERC is to facilitate what is going on in the world reliably and affordably.

The states have every right to pass policies they want about their resource mix and have been doing so for sixty to a hundred years.  The idea that these policies are somehow transient, or not well thought out, or are irresponsible—these comments have been raised since the late 90s when states first started passing moderate RPS standards around the country.  Predictions from the government, and from every credible academic institution, and from anyone you want to look at, are telling us where the market is going and what the future set of supply resources will be.  That part is not FERC’s choice.

Rather, FERC under the Federal Power Act has a choice to decide and facilitate what is happening in our markets.  Look at all of our rules—our section 215 reliability standards, our market design rules, our transmission system planning rules—all of it must catch up with the reality of what is going on in the world.  That is not a conceit.  It is our responsibility as federal regulators of the electricity system. 

The growing narrative about extreme weather causing widespread system outages is a narrative for a reason.  When the whole system fails, and production of fuel fails, and transport of that fuel fails, and generation using that fuel fails, and the wind starts and stops or the sun starts and stops—when all of those things happen, it is because of whatever extreme weather is happening.  You cannot use one market design or one fuel source to fix that or disregard the contributions of one type of resource when solving these issues.

I’m excited that we’re starting on items E-2 and E-3 to say that, under the reliability and section 215 part of our responsibility under the Federal Power Act, we are taking steps to make reliability planning more reality-based.

I have included in my concurrence to E-2 some additional refinements that I hope NERC and stakeholders will contemplate in their feedback and in any final NERC standard development. The brief upshot is that I think the success of reform to NERC’s reliability planning standard will depend on the use of consistent inputs and assumptions to inform both performance standards and corrective actions.  Failure to require consistency will prevent common planning approaches and apples-to-apples comparisons between neighboring regions, which is necessary for cost effective, shared solutions.

I also think success will depend on engagement with the states tasked with implementing portions of identified solutions, whether they are transmission development and approval, programs to leverage and incentivize flexible and reduced load, or the holistic development of resources to meet current and future demand.  FERC alone doesn’t have responsibility over the way that reliability happens across the country, and it would be nice to get together and work with stakeholders who have authority over the resource mix in different regions.

But E-2 and E-3 should be the starting point, not the finish line. Several other promising opportunities to strengthen the grid’s defense against extreme weather have been raised in the record, including the development of interregional transfer capability requirements, improved scheduling and dispatch in non-RTO regions, and resource adequacy methodologies that contemplate whether resources will perform during extreme weather events.  There is no time to wait for further action on each of these fronts and I look forward to working with the Chairman and my colleagues on these issues.

This page was last updated on June 16, 2022