- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Chair Cheryl LaFleur, who will head FERC through April 2015, said it is too soon for her agency to get involved in the debate over EPA's Clean Power Plan, though it may issue a white paper as it did when EPA created its Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) to describe FERC's advisory responsibility.
- FERC regulates electricity rates, the bulk transmission system, natural gas pipelines, and “things that keep the lights on,” according to LaFleur, but it would be overstepping for the agency to address environmental regulations unless they impact its primary responsibilities.
- FERC may eventually study the EPA rule’s impacts on its areas of jurisdiction, LaFleur acknowledged.
As guardian of the U.S. transmission system, FERC could be caught in the partisan debate over EPA's proposed rule to cut greenhouse gas emissions 30% below the 2005 level by 2030. The EPA proposal allows each state to select from four basic changes in its energy mix to achieve prescribed emissions reductions but FERC could act if increased natural gas use necessitates decisions on gas lines or if increased renewables threaten grid reliability.
LaFleur said she understands lawmakers’ need for “a magic number” at which the EPA rule impacts rates and reliability, especially because the MATS decisions were more straightforward than in this case where every state has multiple options. LaFleur said FERC will also watch for impacts on electricity markets.
FERC Commissioner Philip Moeller recently called for a "public and transparent" forum where engineers and “reliability experts" including the North American Electric Reliability Corp., electricity market operators, power generators, consumers, and states can study the proposed EPA emissions plan's technicalities. Although FERC lacks jurisdiction, this should be done because EPA lacks expertise in markets and reliability, according to Moeller.