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- FERC: Transmission, Dispatchability Needed // White House Ditches NRC Pick
FERC: Transmission, Dispatchability Needed // White House Ditches NRC Pick
Welcome to Grid Brief! Here’s what we’re looking at today: FERC calls for more transmission and more dispatchability to secure reliability, Germany plans to expand its gas generation fleet, and more.
FERC: Transmission, Dispatchability Needed
A media briefing held by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission focused on two major themes in the wake of winter storms Gerri and Helen: transmission and dispatchability.
“In a move that could bolster the U.S. grid, Phillips said he expects in the ‘coming months’ that the agency will revamp its requirements for transmission planning and cost allocation,” reports Utility Dive. “A new transmission planning rule would build on FERC’s updated interconnection requirements — issued in July — for connecting generator and energy storage projects to the grid, he said.”
FERC, according to Phillips, is also exploring how to improve inter-regional transmission as a reliability upgrade. The Commission’s efforts are running parallel to a North American Electric Reliability Corp.’s study on inter-regional transmission.
“We are working on these two projects in parallel so that when NERC concludes its study, FERC is ready to act immediately,” he said.
Meanwhile, Commissioner Mark Christie flagged retiring coal plants as a major reliability concern.
“If the pace of retirements continues at the pace it is, the numbers just aren’t going to add up,” Christie said. “This is not a commentary against some form of resources. It is simply stating what NERC has been telling us over and over … that if you don’t maintain these dispatchable resources until you have an absolutely adequate replacement, we’re not going to have the success we had in the last three or four days.”
White House Ditches NRC Pick
In a win for pro-nuclear advocates, the Biden administration has withdrawn its support for Nuclear Regulatory Commission appointee Jeff Baran.
Baran held a seat at the NRC since 2014, having been appointed by President Barack Obama and re-appointed by President Donald Trump in 2018.
“But pro-nuclear advocates anger over what they saw as Baran’s unwillingness to overhaul the regulatory process in favor of building new types of reactor technologies launched a campaign against the commissioner last year,” reports the Huffington Post. “With Republicans opposed to the nomination, the Biden administration needed almost every Democrat in the Senate to vote for Baran ― or leave the NRC without a tie-breaker for party-line votes between the four current commissioners.”
Baran failed to win Senate approval for re-appointment before Congress concluded business last year, after which the White House pulled his nomination. The campaign against Baran, spearheaded by the Breakthrough Institute, succeeded.
“The fact that enough Democratic senators were willing to say we’re not going to vote for this guy,” Ted Nordhaus of Breakthrough Institute told HuffPo, “it’s pretty clear that for the first time in maybe ever a bunch of Democrats now recognize that we need reform at the NRC, that something has to change, that the technology can’t succeed if the NRC continues to approach this in the way it historically has.”
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Biden takes heat for Louisiana LNG project. “The Biden administration faces mounting pressure over whether to approve a massive new Louisiana LNG export project, with environmentalists saying the facility would undermine U.S. climate goals and business interests arguing it is essential for global energy security,” reports Reuters. “The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, a panel of three regulators, is expected to vote in weeks or months on approval of Venture Global's Calcasieu Pass 2, or CP2, liquefied natural gas terminal (CP2) project.”
Estonia to vote on nuclear as part of shale exit. “Estonia plans to build a small modular reactor (SMR) to wean itself off the addiction to polluting oil shale and meet its target of producing 100% decarbonised electricity by 2030. A vote in Parliament is expected ‘in the first half of 2024,’ officials say,” reports Euractiv. “Until now, Estonia’s energy independence was ensured by the exploitation of oil shale, one of the most polluting fossil fuels. This sedimentary rock can be burnt as a low-grade fuel for power generation and heating.”
Solar firm plans big Illinois expansion. “Chicago is touting a win after a wave of high-profile corporate departures: A Massachusetts-based solar provider is planning an expansion in the city along with planned investments of $2 billion in Illinois,” reports Bloomberg. “Nexamp Inc., a provider and developer of renewable energy, is making Chicago its second national headquarters, according to statements from the company and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker’s office. The company said its expansion in the state would create about 50 new jobs.”
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