Hours before the Department of Energy's (DOE) controversial notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) was rejected by FERC, Apple Inc. on Monday weighed in, charging that the proposal would “inhibit, rather than promote, a well-designed and competitive electricity market.”
Apple urged the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to consider a market-based, fuel-neutral alternative. Late Monday, FERC rejected the DOE proposal and instead directed regional grid operators to study the grid resilience issue before any actions are undertaken. DOE Secretary Rick Perry had given FERC until Wednesday to consider the NOPR.
In a letter to FERC Chairman Kevin McIntyre, Apple Vice President Cynthia Hogan said the proposed Grid Resiliency Pricing Rule would "discourage the development of new technologies, including clean energy sources and advanced energy storage technologies."
Hogan said the NOPR is unnecessary because the nation's power grid is not in crisis, and the proposed rule would interfere with businesses' ability to find economical and reliable sources of energy, and would impact business certainty.
"The rationale for the proposed rule is based on an assertion that specific generation resources are essential to having and maintaining a reliable and resilient electric power grid, and that the competitive power markets have failed to adequately replenish these resources," Hogan said. However, she said last month's assessment by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, coupled with recent testimony from regional grid operators, painted a very different picture.
"Given these conclusions, there is no immediate need to impose additional costs on consumers and market participants to, in effect, subsidize specific generation types," a clear nod to coal and nuclear power generators, which stand to benefit from the rule.
DOE submitted the NOPR to FERC last September. While coal and some electricity organizations have shown support for the NOPR, natural gas industry groups are vehemently opposed.
Apple, which uses renewable sources to power 100% of its operations in the United States, supports a long-term reliability analysis of the nation's power grid, Hogan said. Such an analysis would be conducted by regional transmission organizations (RTO) and independent system operators (ISO).
"Before taking action, FERC should solicit input from all market participants and RTOs/ISOs regarding the reasons for any gaps in grid resiliency and identify fuel-neutral policies to improve overall grid reliability and resiliency in the long run."