Posts by: Jennifer Chen

Lost in Transmission: World’s Biggest Machine Needs Update

 July 2, 2018 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project Coauthored by Katherine Worden, Legal Intern, Stanford Law School. America’s grid carries electricity from over 7,700 power plants across 707,000 miles of high-voltage lines, and through millions of miles of low-voltage lines and transformers to millions of customers. It’s an impressive machine, but like other early 20th century technologies, it’s due for a reboot. Hundreds of…

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PJM Auction: Wind, Solar, Efficiency Still Face Barriers

 May 29, 2018 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project PJM’s latest auction for utilities to buy and sell commitments to deliver electricity in the future, known as capacity, produced prices nearly twice as high as the previous year, and even at these higher prices, PJM still over-procured capacity. That means the 65 million electricity customers served by PJM will be paying too much…

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What’s Resilience? It’s Not More Fuel or Higher Prices, PJM

May 9, 2018 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) early this year rejected the Department of Energy proposal that would have further subsidized coal and nuclear power plants, and instead opened a new proceeding to investigate the concept of resilience on the interstate transmission system that it regulates (known as the bulk power system). We along with other…

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PJM Offers Two Proposals: A Rock and a Hard Place

April 11, 2018 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project PJM, the transmission grid operator for parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest, filed two competing proposals this week at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency tasked with ensuring that wholesale electricity market rules result in reasonable rates. Both proposals would drive up the utility bills of 65 million electricity…

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Diverse Coalition Sets Forth Vision for FERC Power Markets

March 7, 2018 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project Seeking to fix growing problems with certain wholesale electricity markets, an unusual coalition of rural-cooperative and publicly-owned electric utilities, industrial and commercial customers, consumer advocates, renewable energy organizations, and NRDC have joined together in support of a set of principles for market design. Chief among the concerns spurring the collaboration are wholesale capacity markets…

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FERC Storage Rule a Win for a More Flexible Grid

February 20, 2018 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency overseeing the competitiveness of the wholesale electricity markets and high-voltage interstate transmission grid operators, has finalized a rule that reduces barriers to electric storage resources to compete in those markets. Electric storage resources, like batteries, can absorb and store cheap electricity generated by wind…

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No Love for Grid Operator’s Latest Costly Market Proposal

February 14, 2018 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project PJM, the electricity grid operator serving 65 million customers in 13 Mid-Atlantic and Midwestern states and the District of Columbia, is deciding whether it will again override its own stakeholders to propose yet another controversial and expensive electricity market rule change at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency…

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Our Grid Needs to Go on a Diet to Get Leaner and Greener

 December 28, 2017 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, Sustainable FERC Project Part of NRDC’s 2017 year-end retrospective in hopes of informing changes to come Many regions of the United States have overbuilt and retained too many power plants, which can be detrimental to their owners, consumers, clean alternatives like wind and solar power, and flexible resources like energy storage and demand response (compensating customers for…

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What’s Resilience? DOE Should Say Before Spending Your Money

October 23, 2017 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, The Sustainable FERC Project The Department of Energy (DOE) recently proposed that American consumers further subsidize certain power plants (essentially, coal and nuclear power plants) by paying them billions of dollars to stockpile 90 days worth of fuel onsite. This proposal hinges on the idea that onsite fuel will somehow provide the electric grid with “resilience.” But the DOE…

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FERC Should Remove Barriers to DER & Storage in Markets

March 10, 2017 by Jennifer Chen, Attorney, The Sustainable FERC Project The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)—the agency tasked by Congress to remove barriers to competition in the wholesale electricity markets—has proposed a rule seeking to remove several such obstacles to electric storage and distributed energy resources (DERs), such as electric vehicles plugged into the grid and rooftop solar panels.…

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