Jeff Dennis

Recent Posts

Transmission Buildout Requires State as Well as Federal Engagement

Posted by Jeff Dennis on Mar 15, 2022 11:30:00 AM

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The need to deploy vast new supplies of advanced energy technologies to achieve a 100% clean electricity system and power the transportation and building sectors with clean electricity is well documented. Expanding the nation’s electric transmission infrastructure — the long-distance high-voltage lines that deliver electricity in bulk from generation resources to local distribution networks — is a key part of achieving that goal. A variety of challenges stand in the way of transmission expansion, ranging from weak planning processes, to fights over who will pay the cost of new lines, to local permitting and siting issues. Addressing these challenges will require policy changes not just at the federal level, where recent attention has been focused, but also in states and local communities.

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Topics: Federal Policy

MOPR Rollback Proposal Heads to FERC

Posted by Jeff Dennis on Jul 26, 2021 9:41:51 AM

PJM MOPR Substitute

The saga of the expanded Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) in PJM Interconnection continues. Put in place by previous FERC leadership in December 2019, the expanded MOPR threatened to exclude advanced energy technologies supported by state and local policies from the PJM capacity market, artificially increasing capacity prices in the market, increasing costs to consumers, and derailing progress in meeting the clean energy goals of state and local governments and consumers. Responding to unambiguous signals from the new FERC leadership appointed by the Biden Administration that the expanded MOPR policy must go, PJM stakeholders and its Board of Managers voted this month to send FERC a proposal that will roll back the expanded MOPR. That could mean the beginning of the end for MOPR – and the start of broader market reform to support the transition to 100% advanced energy.

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Topics: Wholesale Markets

In the Southeast U.S., Is SEEM What It Seems, or More Utility Monopoly?

Posted by Jeff Dennis on Mar 30, 2021 4:34:13 PM

SEEM is it a market

For the past two years, states, advanced energy developers, and corporate buyers of clean energy have expressed interest in creating competitive wholesale electricity markets in the Southeast. They see these markets as potentially reducing consumer costs and facilitating the cost-effective achievement of state and corporate clean energy goals. As calls in the region to study the creation of competitive wholesale market mechanisms in the region steadily grew, surprising news leaked in July that several utilities in the Southeast, including Southern Co., Duke Energy, and the Tennessee Valley Authority, were talking about a new platform for power trading called the Southeast Energy Exchange Market (SEEM), culminating in a filing with FERC in February. The question now: is SEEM a step toward wholesale market competition and greater access to advanced energy in the region, or a preemptive strike by the region’s utilities to avoid true competition? 

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Topics: Wholesale Markets

MOPR and More: Where the Minimum Offer Price Rule and Related Measures Stand Going Into 2021

Posted by Jeff Dennis on Dec 16, 2020 10:00:00 AM

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In October, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a long-awaited order on plans submitted by PJM Interconnection (PJM) to implement the broad Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) the agency ordered in late 2019. As we’ve detailed in prior posts, the broad MOPR that FERC has imposed in PJM and other regions threatens to exclude advanced energy resources supported by state policies from the centralized capacity markets, a result that could derail state clean energy ambitions and unnecessarily raise costs to consumers. While not approving the compliance plan in its entirety, FERC’s order did accept PJM’s proposal to provide flexibility in the application of the MOPR that could mitigate some of the MOPR’s anticipated negative effects, without eliminating them entirely. Meanwhile, court challenges to FERC’s MOPR policy in PJM are poised to begin, and the broader impacts of FERC’s MOPR-like policies in New York and New England continue to play out, all setting the stage for a new chapter in this ongoing state-FERC saga in the new year, this time with new FERC leadership.

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Topics: Wholesale Markets

Why Wholesale Markets are Important to an Advanced Energy Future

Posted by Jeff Dennis on Sep 2, 2020 11:00:00 AM

Wholesale Market RTO-745

Friction between organized wholesale electricity markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (RTOs/ISOs) and the trend – driven by policy, technology, and market forces – toward cleaner energy options have generated plenty of headlines in recent years. The barriers to entry that advanced energy technologies sometimes face in wholesale markets have come into stark relief, as federal policies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR), legacy market rules and market designs, and efforts to use the levers of federal power to prop up aging uneconomic power plants and put new regulatory barriers in front of clean energy resources collide with rapidly increasing state and customer ambitions to switch to clean energy.    

Despite these conflicts, competitive wholesale markets have still shown themselves to be a platform to integrate new technologies, increase transparency, and harness competitive forces over broad geographic regions to scale development of low-cost advanced energy technologies, improve customer access to those technologies, and replace uneconomic existing fossil fuel plants. FERC opened these markets to full participation by energy storage resources with its Order No. 841, creating a 40 GW opportunity to scale up development of technology that will be instrumental in the 100% clean energy grid of the future. And outside of FERC, RTO/ISO stakeholder processes are moving ahead on their own to reform market rules and operating practices to integrate transformative hybrid solar/wind-plus-storage power plants and consider a role for carbon pricing in the markets, providing a forum for discussions and market design progress not available in other regions.   

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Topics: Wholesale Markets