Major decisions ahead for FERC: report

  • Market: Electricity, Emissions
  • 11/10/16

The next US president will help shape the future of distributed generation, market consolidation and state renewable portfolio standards through appointments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which has broad power to regulate electricity policy.

FERC's main task will be to decide how much federal policy should accommodate state policy, and how far states can regulate without overstepping into federal territory, according to a report by the University of North Carolina School of Law Center for Climate, Energy, Environment and Economics; the Harvard Environmental Policy Initiative; and Duke University's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions. While the jurisdictional line was once clearer, the growth of the multi-state electric grid and interstate markets for electricity has expanded FERC's responsibilities.

Pressing issues facing FERC under the new administration include how much to support the growth of state distributed energy sources, including rooftop solar, in the US. The body will also need to rule on utility mergers in an increasingly rapid consolidation process and to address the growing number of ambitious state renewable energy portfolios.

Only three of the five FERC seats are held, meaning that the next president will immediately be able to nominate two new commissioners to the regulatory body. FERC rules state that no more than three commissioners may come from the same political party. No matter who takes the White House the new appointees will not be Democrats, because all three current commissioners belong to that political group.

The report listed electricity market regulation, under the purview of FERC, first out of six key areas of federal energy policy to be decided by the next administration. The other areas include climate policy, nuclear energy, shale gas oversight, economic development in communities affected by coal's decline, and government procurement.


Sharelinkedin-sharetwitter-sharefacebook-shareemail-share

Related news posts

Argus illuminates the markets by putting a lens on the areas that matter most to you. The market news and commentary we publish reveals vital insights that enable you to make stronger, well-informed decisions. Explore a selection of news stories related to this one.

News
18/06/24

Mexico GHG program still in limbo: MexiCO2

Mexico GHG program still in limbo: MexiCO2

Houston, 18 June (Argus) — Despite Mexico's election of a new president with a background in climate science, it is not clear if the new leadership will revive a stalled national emission trading system (ETS), according to one of the country's top carbon market advocates. President-elect Claudia Sheinbaum, the candidate for the ruling Morena party, won the 2 June election to succeed President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. But it is unclear, ahead of her inauguration on 1 October where Sheinbaum will land on wrangling the emissions program and the country's climate commitments and goals, says Eduardo Piquero, chief executive of MexiCO2, a carbon market advocate and a subsidiary of Mexico's stock exchange. "The only hint we've had so far is during some presidential debates, she mentioned she was very keen on climate change and was going to act on Mexico's commitment," Piquero said. Mexico launched a pilot ETS in 2020, with plans to launch a formal national program in 2022. The pilot-phase covered facilities in the energy and industrial sectors that emitted more than 100,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year, which received allowances at no cost. More than two years after the expected launch of a national market, a formal rollout remains in limbo, primarily because of a lack of action by the government under López Obrador, who Piquero credits with dismantling much of the program along with Mexican environment ministry Semarnat, which oversaw the program. Putting the program and Semarnat back together could take between 2-3 years, Piquero says. Sheinbaum, the former mayor of Mexico City and a climate scientist, has not yet said what her plans are, if any, for a federal emissions trading scheme. A federal ETS will also require new legislation, given the pilot expired after 36 months, and regulators will need to convince major covered participants such as state-owned oil and gas company Pemex and power producer CFE to take part in the official program. The government will also need to reconcile how the ETS will work with the country's state and local programs, such as state carbon taxes in Durango, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosi, Querétaro, Zacatecas, Tamaulipas, and Estado de México, along with others in-development. Currently, Mexico has a goal of a 35pc reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2030 from a 2000 baseline. Despite a lack of policy specifics, Sheinbaum pledged to deliver on commitments of her predecessor for items like infrastructure development in southeast Mexico for new natural gas and gas-fired power generation — moves that may not support resumption of the ETS and limiting the nation's emissions. "The only way Mexico can measure and control its emissions is through an ETS," Piquero said. Sheinbaum is set to announce government appointments this week, which would include her choice to head Semarnat, a choice that will color discussions on the future for the ETS program. Piquero expects the job will go to one of two candidates: Marina Robles García, secretary of the environment of Mexico City, or Jose Luis Samaniego, a division chief with the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean. By Denise Cathey Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Find out more
News

Phillips 66 targets high Rodeo runs


18/06/24
News
18/06/24

Phillips 66 targets high Rodeo runs

Houston, 18 June (Argus) — Low-carbon feedstock and sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) opportunities will support strong run rates from Phillips 66's converted renewables plant in Rodeo, California, this year, chief executive Mark Lashier said today. The outlook heralded a high output from the converted Rodeo refinery ramping up toward 50,000 b/d of renewable diesel capacity by the end of this month, despite historic lows in state and federal incentives for the fuel. "Where we are today, economically, yes, the credits are kind of compressed, but feedstocks are lower than we anticipated as well," Lashier told the JP Morgan Energy, Power & Renewables conference. "We still see good economic incentives to run and run full." The US independent refiner had started up pre-treatment units at the plant to begin processing lower-carbon feedstocks for renewable diesel in July and August, he said, consistent with previous guidance. "That's how you really make money in these assets — you get the lowest-carbon intensity feedstocks at the best value and process them through the hydrocrackers," Lashier said. " The facility would also bring online 10,000 b/d of renewable jet fuel blendstock production supporting 20,000 b/d of blended sustainable aviation fuel, a product Phillips 66 had not targeted in the initial concept for the site, he said. Both state and federal incentives to supply renewable diesel along the west coast have fallen as the fuel inundates those markets. Renewable diesel alone made up roughly 57pc of California's liquid diesel pool and generated 40pc of the Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) credits in the state's market-based transportation fuel carbon reduction program by the end of last year. The supply of lower-carbon fuels, led by renewable diesel, to the west coast LCFS markets have outstripped demand for deficit-generating petroleum fuels and led to growing reserves of available credits for compliance. California amassed more than 23mn metric tonnes of credits by the end of last year — more than enough left over after satisfying all of the new deficits generated last year to offset them a second time. The volume of unused credits has sent their price tumbling to nine-year lows. Oregon and Washington credits, which are needed for similar but distinct programs in those states, have similarly dropped as renewable diesel supplies spread out along the west coast. Gasoline consumption generates almost all new deficits in California. Year-over-year demand for the fuel nationwide has fallen below expectations this spring, Lashier said. "We are not really seeing things pick up like a lot of us expected to," he said. Lower-income customers struggling with higher costs on everything they buy may have forgone vacations, he said. The drop in broader buying power meanwhile had rippled through diesel consumption, he said. "As we move towards more expensive energy sources, that's the part of the economy that gets squeezed as well," Lashier said. "Hopefully we move through that and reverse and that part of the economy can pick up as well as the higher end of the economy." By Elliott Blackburn Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Amtrak used 1.2mn USG renewable diesel in 2023


18/06/24
News
18/06/24

Amtrak used 1.2mn USG renewable diesel in 2023

New York, 18 June (Argus) — US passenger rail service Amtrak used 1.2mn USG of renewable diesel in fiscal year 2023, up from zero the prior year, as the company balances near-term climate targets with goals to increase ridership. Amtrak started using renewable diesel on its Capitol Corridor, San Joaquin, and Pacific Surfliner intercity passenger lines in California during the fiscal year that ended September 2023. Renewable diesel accounted for about 2pc of the company's diesel use over that period, according to a sustainability report Amtrak released this week. The rail service's petroleum diesel use rose by about 6pc year-over-year, reflecting increases in ridership as travel recovers from the coronavirus pandemic. Scope 1 emissions, which come from Amtrak's direct operations and which mostly include burning diesel fuel, were up by more than 3pc from fiscal year 2022. While Amtrak's highly traveled Northeast Corridor is electrified, most of its lines rely on diesel-fueled locomotives. The company plans to replace diesel-powered engines over the long term but says it expects to use renewable diesel as a stopgap solution in the short term and is aiming for the biofuel to become its "main fuel source" for its diesel-powered engines. While the 2022 sustainability report made passing reference to biodiesel — a separate biofuel that can be blended at smaller volumes with petroleum diesel than renewable diesel — the 2023 report only mentions efforts to scale up use of renewable diesel. Amtrak has a goal of curbing greenhouse gas emissions by 40pc from a 2010 baseline by 2030 and achieving net-zero emissions by 2045. Most renewable diesel in the US is consumed in California, which has a low-carbon fuel standard that incentivizes the use of lower-carbon fuels. By Cole Martin Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Ecuador cuts power as heavy rains hurt hydro


18/06/24
News
18/06/24

Ecuador cuts power as heavy rains hurt hydro

Quito, 18 June (Argus) — Ecuador restarted daily two-hour power outages this week across the country because of issues in the 1.5GW Coca-Codo Sinclaire, 156MW Agoyan and 230MW San Francisco hydroelectric plants. Heavy rainfalls near Coca-Codo Sinclair have increased sediments in the Coca river that feeds the plant, forcing six of its eight turbines out of operation. The plant is the largest generator in the country and is in the provinces of Napo and Sucumbios, in the northeast of the country. In addition, Agoyan's engine house flooded also because of the massive rainfalls and landslides in the central highlands of the country where the plant is located. And the San Francisco plant, downstream of Agoyan, stopped generating as well because it uses the same water supply as Agoyan. Ecuador has lost about 1.5GW-1.9GW of power capacity in recent days because of these issues and 400MW of power capacity available for imports from its northern neighbor Colombia were not enough to prevent the need for rolling outages. The energy ministry will update its plans for outages this week based on the status of the three hydroelectric plants. Ecuador implemented 2–8-hour blackouts for 12 days from 16-30 April because of a lack of rain in the main hydroelectric plants after dry conditions also led to 35 days of blackouts from October-December 2023. By Alberto Araujo Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

News

Countries urge EU to monitor ETS maritime coverage risk


18/06/24
News
18/06/24

Countries urge EU to monitor ETS maritime coverage risk

London, 18 June (Argus) — Spain announced at a meeting of EU transport ministers in Luxembourg today a declaration backed by eight other member states calling for the European Commission to monitor the inclusion of maritime emissions in the bloc's emissions trading system (ETS). The declaration states that the risk mitigation measures set out in the EU ETS directive are insufficient to tackle the "high risk of diversion of shipping routes from EU ports to third-country [non-EU] ports, particularly regarding container transshipment traffic". The document, also supported by Cyprus, Greece, Croatia, Italy, Lithuania, Malta, Portugal and Romania, points to signs that such risks could transpire in the short to medium term. These include some transshipment route alterations to non-EU countries, higher port capacity development in non-EU countries and a shortage of available alternative fuels in the sector. The declaration therefore urges the commission to insert a risk assessment in the EU ETS monitoring mechanism "including predictive criteria to be able to anticipate possible route deviations", as well as to begin work immediately on measures that could be imposed to prevent such changes. It also calls for the EU to strengthen its work to find global solutions to shipping decarbonisation through the International Maritime Organisation. The inclusion of the sector in the EU ETS is being phased in gradually, covering 40pc of 2024 emissions, 70pc of 2025 emissions and then all relevant emissions from 2026. Shippers must surrender EU ETS allowances covering 100pc of emissions from intra-EU journeys, and 50pc of emissions from extra-EU journeys. By Victoria Hatherick Send comments and request more information at feedback@argusmedia.com Copyright © 2024. Argus Media group . All rights reserved.

Generic Hero Banner

Business intelligence reports

Get concise, trustworthy and unbiased analysis of the latest trends and developments in oil and energy markets. These reports are specially created for decision makers who don’t have time to track markets day-by-day, minute-by-minute.

Learn more