Tag Archives: Robert F. Powelson

FERC inadvertently clears path for renewable energy via storage 2018-02-15

FERC just let slip the wolves of sun and wind by enabling the storage that those sunny twenty-first-century “aggregated distributed energy resources” (DER) will use to blow down the straw houses of traditional twentieth-century so-called baseload capacity coal, oil, and nuclear power plants.

FERC Commissioner Robert F. Powelson called out the “participation model” Thursday’s twin orders enable, bypassing many traditional charges by accounting for physical characteristics that do not change over time, recognizing that batteries, sun, and wind power are basically different from old-style dinosaur power plants. Commissioner Neil Chatterjee named Senators Ed Markey and Sheldon Whitehouse as proponents of these new rules, which is very interesting since both have long been proponents of renewable energy, and Sen. Whitehouse called out FERC for failing to implement the DC Circuit Court’s Order on greenhouse gases. Commissioner Cheryl A. LaFleur said “Electric storage is like a ‘Swiss army knife’”. Maybe more like the South Australian storage utility player that has already out-responded natural gas during coal plant outages. Commissioner Richard Glick says sun and wind power “no less than energy storage, have the potential to play a leading role in the electric grid of the future”. None of the Commissioners could bring themselves to say what they all know: sun, wind, water power with storage will be the electric grid of the future. Former FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff and I were right in 2013: solar power will provide more U.S. electricity than any other source by 2023, on the way to complete conversion of everything to sun, wind, water, and storage by 2050.

Frequency response of Tesla South Australian battery
Giles Parkinson, Reneweconomy, 23 January 2018, Tesla big battery moves from show-boating to money-making.

Gavin Bade, UtilityDive, Feb. 15, 2018, FERC issues storage, reliability orders, calls conference on aggregated DERs, Continue reading

Same Excuse: FERC rubberstamps PennEast like Sabal Trail 2018-01-19

Precedent agreements for 90+% of the pipeline’s capacity was FERC’s excuse for PennEast yesterday, the same as for Sabal Trail two years ago. Yet Sabal Trail apparently already lost 4/7 of its supposedly solid customer base and is not even shipping any gas. Even a dissenting FERC Commissioner spelled out that such shaky “need” does not justify environmental damage nor invasion of property rights through federal eminent domain. Sure, Commissioner LaFleur, we should trust PennEast with the Delaware River like FERC told us to trust Sabal “Sinkhole” Trail about the Suwannee River?

FERC Commissioner Richard Glick On New Year’s Day Sabal Trail removed Duke Energy Florida (DEF) from its customer index. On November 14, 2017, Sabal Trail’s gas flow dropped to zero, and Sabal Trail increased its Uncommitted Capacity by 300,000 Dekatherms per day, exactly the same as DEF formerly contracted for, and thirty days after DEF’s initial contract expired. That leaves FPL as Sabal Trail’s only customer, with its 400,000 DTH/day. Four sevenths of of 93% is only about 53%, which is not even the 75% Commissioner Richard Glick also mentioned in in his Friday dissent from the 4:1 FERC rubberstamp of the PennEast pipeline, which also happens to be a feeder for Sabal Trail through Transco. Meanwhile, during freezing weather in Florida, Sabal Trail shipped zero gas for much of November and January (and hardly any in December): how is that need?

Lost Duke Energy Florida, Flow
Lost Duke Energy Florida, Sabal Trail?

No Balance

Commissioner Glick’s opening paragraph also sums up the recent WWALS motion to FERC to reject, shut off, and revoke Sabal Trail: Continue reading

Senate confirmed 2 FERC nominees with no discussion 2017-08-03

The Senate took less than two minutes to confirm Neil Chatterjee and Robert F. Powelson as FERC Commissioners, taking it up even earlier than we suspected. The only voice heard voting was Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee that had forwarded their names. It’s not clear any other Senators were even in the room; certainly none spoke up at any point. She praised the new Commissioners and added that they would “help facilitate the buildout of an aging infrastructure and the add-on of new infrastructure”, which of course means more pipeline boondoggles when the country and the world need to get on with sun and wind power.

Reading the nominations

Worse, there are not one but two more FERC nominees in the pipeline, including a proposed Chair very friendly with pipelines and fossil fuels.

CSPAN, Senate Session, August 3, 2017, Continue reading