FERC Must Evaluate the Cumulative Grid Reliability Impacts of EPA’s Regulatory Onslaught, NMA Says in Comments
November 8, 2023 - The National Mining Association submitted formal comments in advance of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Reliability Technical Conference, imploring the Commission to examine the cumulative impacts of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) rulemakings on grid reliability.
“EPA has time and again disregarded the warnings of the states, grid operators, utilities, electric co-ops and the nation’s foremost reliability experts that its agenda poses a critical threat to the nation’s supply of power,” said Rich Nolan, NMA president and CEO.
“Despite the rapid deterioration of the nation’s grid reliability, EPA has charged ahead with an agenda to only accelerate the retirement of essential coal generating capacity using a blitz of rulemakings with the implicit goal of forcing plant closures.
“EPA has downplayed the grid reliability impacts of its rules in its own analysis and failed to coordinate with the nation’s grid reliability regulators. It is essential that FERC hold EPA to account, investigate the cumulative reliability impacts of EPA’s regulatory blitz and provide the analysis needed to understand the full measure of EPA’s dangerous agenda.”
- Whether it is the transport rule, new effluent limitations guidelines, the so-called Clean Power Plan 2.0 or other rules, EPA is forcing prohibitively costly standards and infeasible technology mandates on the nation’s coal and natural gas fleets that threaten to dismantle nearly 60 percent of the nation’s generating capacity overnight.
- In response to EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan 2.0, four of the nation’s largest grid operators told EPA, “The joint [independent system operators/regional transmission organizations] are concerned that the proposed rule could result in material, adverse impacts to the reliability of the power grid.”
- Along with increasingly dire reliability assessments, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation’s (NERC) president and CEO, Jim Robb, told Congress that, “the pace of change is overtaking the reliability needs of the system.” When asked during testimony if the generating capacity EPA’s regulatory agenda is forcing off the grid can be sufficiently replaced without incurring reliability impacts. He said, “Not in the timeframe we’re looking at. No.”
- In testimony this spring, FERC Commissioner Mark Christie told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, “the United States is heading for a reliability crisis. I do not use the term ‘crisis’ for melodrama, but because it is an accurate description of what we are facing.” Commissioner James Danly testified that, “we know that there is a looming resource adequacy crisis. Our market operators have been explicitly telling us as much for years.” FERC Chairman Willie Phillips, appointed by President Biden, added, “I am extremely concerned about the pace of retirements we are seeing of generators which are needed for reliability on our system. NERC and the grid operators have warned us about this.”
- While EPA claimed it consulted FERC on the reliability impacts of the Clean Power Plan 2.0, FERC Commissioner James Danly wrote to EPA to correct the record. “I was not asked what I thought of the Proposed Rule’s effects on electric reliability, and I am not aware of my fellow commissioners having had their feedback solicited,” he wrote. “Until the record of FERC’s technical conference [on reliability] is submitted in the docket, the EPA will lack the record evidence necessary to make an informed decision.”