Via E&E Publishing:
The leader of the nation’s association for state utility regulators last week said U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan could forever alter his job description — and he’s not happy with the idea.
“Regardless of what you think about a regulation like that, [the Clean Power Plan] is the premier example of the convergence of environmental regulation and utility economic regulation, and it really threatens to completely alter the latter forever,” said National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President Travis Kavulla.
Public utility commissioners are increasingly required to weigh competing and sometimes contradictory interests when they make decisions, Kavulla argued. They are already tasked with being economic regulators for their state power sectors, he noted: “An extremely hard thing to do.”
“It becomes even more complicated when economic regulators are called upon to be safety regulators … [and] it becomes even more difficult when we are called upon to be environmental regulators,” said Kavulla, speaking at a lunch hosted by the Natural Gas Roundtable in Washington, D.C.
“Even if you support the underlying premise of what EPA and other regulatory agencies have done regarding environmental regulations, it’s a real dilemma when they start layering on responsibilities to economic regulators that are in tension with one another,” said Kavulla, who has been a frequent critic of the Clean Power Plan since it was finalized last August.
“It’s absolute chaos on a job description like mine because frankly there is no common ground,” Kavulla said.
Kavulla also said he had issues with environmental agencies becoming more involved with determining how states generate electricity as they seek to curb carbon emissions, arguing that these agencies are “usually less independent from their political system than utility commissioners.”
He said, “You can have a situation where an environmental regulator essentially puts together a carbon integrated resource plan, ordaining the construction of this or that resource, dressed up in the angle of EPA regulatory compliance.”
However, Kavulla noted that public utility regulators in different states don’t see eye to eye on how to approach this issue.
“We see more and more a divergence between the states in terms of what the identity of their utility commission ought to be,” Kavulla said.
He added, “States seem more different than ever in what they ask their utility commissions to do, and I think we have a lot of thinking to do about what it is that utility commissioners should be asked to be responsible for.”
Tomorrow in Washington, D.C., Kavulla and EPA air chief Janet McCabe testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing to review the agency’s energy and industry regulations.
The heads of the North Dakota Industrial Commission and Texas Railroad Commission will appear, as well as the director of Rice University’s Energy and Environment Initiative and the president of Public Citizen.
See the article here.
- On July 5, 2016