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FERC Pressed on Grid Resiliency, Fairly Valued Baseload Power
North Dakota Ag Connection - 11/19/2020

Senator John Hoeven led a group of his Senate colleagues in pressing the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to provide an update on the agency's efforts to ensure the resiliency and reliability of the electrical grid. FERC opened its resilience docket (AD18-7-000) to receive public comment on the need to ensure markets properly value the resilience and fuel security of traditional baseload resources, like coal. However, the comment period ended in April 2018, and the agency has since taken no measureable actions to advance this priority.

Accordingly, in a letter to FERC Chairman James Danly, Hoeven and his fellow senators are requesting that the agency outline the measures it will take to evaluate grid resilience, address the challenges facing grid operators and strengthen the reliability of the grid. Hoeven's letter is co-signed by Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah). Congressman David B. McKinley (R-W.Va.) led a similar effort in the House of Representatives.

"Every home and business depends on the grid's ability to keep the lights on, and this effort is about preserving access to reliable and affordable baseload power, like coal, which can meet the demand for electricity, regardless of weather or time of day," said Hoeven. "FERC has already gathered public input on the issue of grid resilience, but as we've seen during recent events, including California's rolling blackouts in August, we need clear action to strengthen the grid by stopping the alarming loss of baseload generation capacity. That's why we continue pressing FERC to ensure baseload power is fairly valued in regulated markets, while also advancing tools like the 45Q tax credit and CCUS technology to provide a true path forward for our coal producers."

"The closure of additional baseload power plants will weaken America's national and economic security. With coal and nuclear plants already closing at alarming rates, the reliability of America's electric grid is at risk," said McKinley. "From the Polar Vortex to rolling blackouts in California to the growing threat of cyberattacks from foreign enemies, we've seen how weather and other external factors can stress our energy supply and threaten our security. FERC needs to follow through on its commitment to address grid resiliency, and in doing so guarantee reliable and secure energy for consumers."

This comes as the latest in Hoeven's efforts to ensure coal is fairly valued as a reliable and affordable source of baseload power and to ensure coal's continued role in the nation's energy mix. To this end, Hoeven has:

- Repeatedly raised this issue with FERC and the administration, including Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette.

- Worked closely with the White House, Treasury Department and Energy Department to get the 45Q tax credit implemented in a manner that:

o Makes carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) projects more commercially-viable.

o Provides an important revenue stream to coal producers.

o Moving forward, Hoeven is prioritizing the need to provide a direct payment option and extend the time available for claiming the 45Q tax credit.

- Supported the University of North Dakota's Energy & Environmental Research Center (EERC) in developing CCUS technology to enable greater energy production with fewer emissions.

o To date, Hoeven has secured $43 million for Project Tundra, an effort led by the EERC and Minnkota Power.

- Introduced an amendment, along with Senator Cramer, to repeal the one-year extension of the Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC).

- Provided much-needed regulatory relief for the nation's energy producers, including repealing burdensome rules on coal producers.


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