Amidst a flood of filings on the final scheduled day of public comment for the Department of Energy's (DOE) notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) to implement reforms on the reliability and resiliency of the electricity grid, FERC's web-based system experienced technical difficulties Monday, prompting a 24-hour extension by the Commission.
Any filings that were due Oct. 23, including those related to the NOPR, "will be accepted as timely the next business day," the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said.
By late afternoon Monday, with hundreds of filings submitted to the NOPR docket, FERC's eFiling system had become unresponsive.
FERC began accepting comments on DOE's proposal on Oct. 3 [RM18-1]. Reply comments are due Nov. 7.
Analysts initially said the NOPR might not be completed in the timeline requested -- DOE Secretary Rick Perry directed FERC to issue a final rulemaking or interim final rule within 60 days of publication of the NOPR in the Federal Register -- nor exactly as DOE prescribed. But FERC rejected calls from the oil and gas industry and others, including environmental groups, to extend the public comment period.
Coal and electricity organizations have shown support for the NOPR, while natural gas industry groups have vehemently opposed it.
By midday Monday more than 650 comments had been filed in the NOPR docket.
"Our quick review of the voluminous comments posted at FERC through yesterday evening reinforces our view that FERC is unlikely to dismiss Secretary Rick Perry's concerns as entirely unfounded; we therefore do not expect FERC to simply reject the proposal," analysts at Clearview Energy Partners said in a note to clients Tuesday morning. "We also do not expect FERC to adopt the Resiliency NOPR without significant changes, and continue to expect further process at FERC on the subject on a relatively quick timeline."
Among those coming out against DOE’s NOPR during the final hours of the comment period were PJM Interconnection, one of the nation’s largest electricity grid operators, and New York City, one of the country’s largest users of electricity.
New York City officials said the NOPR focuses too narrowly on on-site fuel availability, unnecessarily undermines state and local public policy objectives, and “may result in unjust and unreasonable wholesale electricity costs to New York City consumers.”
PJM called on FERC to set aside the NOPR, which it said “does not correctly state the problem nor propose a reasonable solution that meets the just and reasonable standard under the Federal Power Act.” Instead, PJM said, FERC should focus study how resource mix changes are affecting individual regional transmission organizations and seek out regional solutions.