FERC Rescinds Southwest Power Pool’s Discriminatory Renewable Energy Accreditation


Edward Smith, edward.smith@sierraclub.org 

Washington, D.C.: The Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) granted a request for a rehearing and set aside its order approving Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) discriminatory capacity accreditation approach for wind and solar. The decision is in response to a lawsuit filed by a coalition of clean energy advocates. 

The FERC decision means that SPP cannot apply these rules unless it refiles its capacity accreditation rules for wind and solar, effectively starting the process over. FERC did not address the underlying flaws in SPP’s approach, which clean energy advocates say ignores the risks of SPP’s large fleet of coal and gas plants going offline when needed most. Clean energy advocates urge SPP to overhaul its approach to ensure that fair accreditation rules are applied to all resource types. 

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.

Statement from Casey Roberts, Senior Attorney with Sierra Club: 

“FERC is just kicking the can down the road by skirting the real issue in this case, which is SPP’s unfair and unreasonable approach to the reliability contributions of different resource types. SPP should go back to the drawing board and bring forward a proposal that accurately accounts for the limitations of all generating resources, so that utilities can better plan for cost-effective reliability.”   

Statement from Aaron Stemplewicz, Attorney with Earthjustice: 

“FERC’s reversal represents a step in the right direction, but it is not yet complete. To create a stable and reliable energy system, SPP and grid operators across the country must thoughtfully modernize outdated resource adequacy methodologies to respond to our inevitable transition to a cleaner energy mix.”

Statement from Melissa Alfano, Director of Energy Markets and Counsel at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA):

While we appreciate that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) reversed its original order, the rules of the road need to be clearly stated for all market participants, and until that happens, ratepayers will bear an unfair burden. We’re also disappointed that FERC didn’t rule on the merits of the case. Without clear guidance, FERC is inviting another proposal that will undoubtedly discriminate against renewables.”

Statement from Gabe Tabak, Senior Counsel for the American Clean Power Association: 

“FERC’s reversal provides SPP an opportunity to take its flawed proposal back to the drawing board. All energy resources need to be assessed for their contributions to reliability, and SPP’s filing was substantially flawed. ACP, its member companies, and other clean energy advocates look forward to ensuring that any subsequent proposal accurately reflects the attributes of clean energy resources, and accounts for the outage risks that all resource types face.”

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

"We've seen repeatedly over the last few years that fossil fuels fail when electricity is most needed. SPP has been given another bite at the apple to take this into account and evaluate renewables in a considered and fair manner. Fossil fuels are not infallible, and customers will lose out on reliability and affordability so long as grid operators continue to over-reward underperformance.

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 www.sierraclub.org.