Advocates File Lawsuit Against FERC for Approving Southwest Power Pool’s Discriminatory Renewable Energy Accreditation


Edward Smith,

Washington, D.C.: Last Friday, clean energy advocates filed a lawsuit in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals against the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) for its approval of the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) discriminatory capacity accreditation rules for wind and solar.  

Clean energy advocates allege SPP’s capacity accreditation rules create an uneven playing field because the grid operator ignores the frequent outages that coal and gas plants experience while rigorously accounting for the variability of wind and solar resources.

In late 2021, SPP submitted a filing at the FERC to implement a new approach for calculating the capacity value of wind and solar. Groups opposed the filing on several grounds, including that SPP's capacity accreditation approach discriminates against wind and solar while applying no scrutiny for coal and gas plant outages. FERC offered no valid reason for why outages from fossil fuel power plants can be ignored while other resources are scrutinized. Meanwhile, SPP's utility-dominated stakeholder process to update its rules for the capacity value of coal and gas units--which are not currently penalized at all for their extensive outages--continues to drag out indefinitely even though coal and gas plants experienced massive outages during Winter Storm Uri.  

Sierra Club is represented by Earthjustice in the lawsuit. The other clean energy advocates, who are represented by in-house counsel, include the American Clean Power Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Solar Energy Industry Association. The lawsuit can be found here.

Statement from Casey Roberts, Senior Attorney with Sierra Club: 

“FERC cannot continue allowing grid operators to pretend that fossil fuel power plants run perfectly, while scrutinizing the availability of renewable energy. This is a matter of fairness, because FERC’s decision allows the Southwest Power Pool to tilt the advantage in favor of fossil fuel power, to the detriment of consumers who need reliable electricity and stable, affordable electric bills.”

Statement from Caroline Reiser, Staff Attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council: 

“We urgently need FERC to bolster the rules that facilitate renewables coming online and deliver us a more affordable, reliable, and safe grid. Unfortunately, FERC approved SPP’s decision to discriminate against clean energy—forcing ratepayers to cover the costs of fossil power plant outages but giving no similar treatment to renewables. This keeps unneeded dirty power plants running and raises bills with no benefit. Rules like this that fail to treat all resources fairly and accurately should be rejected."

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with millions of members and supporters. In addition to protecting every person's right to get outdoors and access the healing power of nature, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit