The National Council on Electricity Policy will be a participant in the upcoming FERC Technical Conference on May 1. The technical Conference will address the interface between wholesale markets and state policy preferences. NCEP Executive Committee member Commissioner Sarah Hofmann of the Vermont Public Service Board will provide insights into the state/federal jurisdictional issues that have been explored by the NCEP since April 2016 in two workshops:
- Our April, 2016, Blurred Lines: State and Federal Jurisdiction in the Power Sector. NCEP members and speakers addressed “simultaneity,” or ambiguous, overlapping, and sometimes uncoordinated actions related to state and federal jurisdictional boundaries in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity; and
- In January 2017 we convened an an Experts Roundtable on valuing baseload electricity resources, to explore the impacts of our nation’s changing generation fleet on how we price electricity, and the options for state officials to create just and reasonable rates given these changes.
These dialogues have led to the conclusion that where ovelaps and conflict between state and federal action exists, the path to resolution that leads through the courts should not be a first resort. Examples like Hughes v Talen Energy Marketing and the Oneok and EPSA cases highlight how narrow a court-derived decision can be, leaving unresolved ambiguity in areas not considered by the courts. Our conversations have suggested better outcomes come from approaches that resolve conflict, including joint explorations, collaboratives similar to the FERC/NARUC Collaborative on Demand Response and Competitive Procurement, and even the FERC May 1 technical conference. These types of processes may yield less ambiguity, better common effort, and the development of tools that bridge and improve policymaking in the public interest.