Jack Walker Published

Public Service Commission Requests Review Of New Federal Energy Policy

Silhouette, Electricity transmission lines and power poles Sunshine twilight sky backdrop.
On May 13, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted regional authorities more control over planning for state and local energy infrastructure.
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Updated on Friday, June 14, 2024 at 10:02 a.m.

The Public Service Commission of West Virginia (PSC) asked federal administrators Wednesday to reconsider a recent decision that granted the federal government more control over local energy infrastructure.

On May 13, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a final ruling — dubbed Order 1920 — requiring local and state electricity providers to coordinate long-term energy planning with other agencies across their regions.

Plus, the policy mandates providers to consider alternative forms of energy, like wind and solar power, in the planning process.

The PSC alleged that these requirements undermine states’ authority by granting out-of-state actors influence over in-state energy services.

“We do not believe that the final rule fully considered the element of uncertainty and potential for error,” the PSC’s plea read.

A man in a suit and tie stands at the front of a wood-paneled hallway, looking into the camera and speaking. He is gesticulating with his hands.
Pictured above, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Willie Phillips discussed Order 1920 in a video shared online May 13.

Photo Credit: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

PSC Chairman Charlotte Lane said in a Thursday press release that West Virginia officials also worry about new costs.

Lane said the FERC ruling “substantially undermines states’ role in transmission planning and will not result in just or reasonable rates.”

In an email to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Andy Gallagher, PSC director of communications, said these concerns center around the possibility of costs from states opting for more alternative fuels falling back on “production states” like West Virginia.

Still, some FERC commissioners said the new policies will ensure that energy infrastructure is compatible across regions, and does not vary widely on the local level.

“Our country is facing an unprecedented surge in demand for affordable electricity while confronting extreme weather threats to the reliability of our grid,” FERC Chairman Willie Phillips said in May. “Our nation needs a new foundation to get badly needed new transmission planned, paid for and built.”

The federal ruling was described as final, but FERC policy grants the public a 30-day window to request a rehearing on decisions — a deadline the PSC met.

**Editor’s note: This story was updated to include a comment from Andy Gallagher, director of communications for the Public Service Commission of West Virginia.