Friday, December 18, 2015

PUC Commissioner Powelson Supports Extended Clean Power Plan Review Time

PUC Commissioner Robert Powelson Thursday sent a letter to Senate and House leadership expressing his “strong support” for extending the review period for any plan developed to meet EPA’s Clean Power Climate rule contained in the Senate-passed Fiscal Code bill -- House Bill 1327 (Peifer-R-Pike).
“The pollution limits required by the EPA, and embodied in Pennsylvania’s SIP (State Implementation Plan), will have great impacts on electricity rates and reliability in the Commonwealth and a thorough review is critically important,” Powelson wrote.
He pointed to a PJM Interconnection study that predicts, under certain scenarios, the impact of the CPP in Pennsylvania could create 29 to 44 percent higher wholesale energy prices by 2020.
“Meanwhile, another RTO (Regional Transmission Organization) has warned that the CPP “could result in transmission reliability issues due to the loss of fossil fuel-fired generation resources in and around major urban centers.”
Another reason cited by Powelson is the difficulty siting natural gas pipelines.
“Given that natural gas is a clean, affordable and abundant source of power in the United States, an inevitable result of the CPP will be a surge in natural gas-fired generation.  However, today’s pipeline infrastructure cannot support the increase in gas generation needed under the CPP, and unfortunately, building pipelines is not a process that occurs overnight, especially considering the extensive permitting process.
“Thus we are faced with a conundrum-- more gas generation, and relatedly more pipelines, are needed for the CPP to succeed, and yet, the Obama Administration has not introduced any corresponding initiative to expedite the permitting process.
“As the longest-serving member of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, I am troubled that the CPP is being used by the EPA, in the nature of a final rulemaking, to create national electricity policy, much of which is legally within the exclusive purview of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
“The bottom line is that the EPA has overstepped its authority and is undermining the Federal Power Act by imposing a de facto national energy policy on the states via the CPP.”
A copy of Commissioner Powelson’s letter is available online.
Commissioner Powelson was first nominated to the PUC by Gov. Rendell is 2008 and in 2011 Gov. Corbett appointed him Chair of the PUC.  His term expires in 2019. Gladys Brown was named by Gov. Wolf as Chair this year.

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