July 25, 2011
Policy Paper: Ineffective Federal Transmission Policy
As regular readers know, I do much of my writing in the energy area, often considering how energy regulation and legislation could or does impact energy markets and businesses. While I don't expect that the energy sector has the same appeal for all business-law types, it is my hope that, at least once in a while, there is something of value in energy-related posts for readers of varying interests. I truly believe that our energy future is our business future. Admittedly, there is also an element of self-promotion here.
With that said, the Center for Energy and Environmental Law at the University of Connecticut School of Law posted a policy paper of mine this week, Reliably Unreliable: The Problems with Piecemeal Federal Transmission and Grid Reliability Policies (pdf).
Here's a part of the executive summary:
In the past, electricity was considered a local concern, but over time major portions of the electrical grid have become regional, national, and even international in scope. Electricity regulation has evolved into a complex web of multijurisdictional oversight, and this evolution has created both tensions and opportunities. National legislation and regulation have helped increase reliability, diversify the fuel mix for electricity generation, and create a more open market for electricity. However, national regulation designed to enhance open markets also created opportunities for abuse. In addition, the increasing level of federal oversight has led to conflicts between state and federal entities as the traditional sense of local control over siting and delivery of electricity has been eroded.
. . . .
There is no shortage of effort at the state, regional, and federal levels to improve [electricity grid] reliability and safety. Unfortunately, in many cases, the efforts have been competitive with other energy-related policies (such as climate change initiatives and renewable energy mandates), and jurisdictional conflicts have obstructed, rather than facilitated, many such efforts. It is time for Congress to provide clear authority to someone to make and coordinate changes. A failure to act to preserve and improve the safety and reliability of our electric system would be a costly and avoidable failure. And that is something no one can afford.