President Joe Biden has chosen Richard Glick to hold the office of the Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Out of the five members of this commission, two are Democratic, and Richard is one of the pair. Getting chairmanship is an excellent deal for the Democrats since he is usually in charge of the commission’s agenda. Consequently, in the event that a vote lacks a tie-breaker, or the Democratic Commissioners are the majority, he will have a significant say when it comes to the commission’s policy in 2021. That’s especially since the Republican commissioners are the majority, which will remain the case until one leaves office.
It is no secret that FERC did a commendable job in 2020, and as usual, people will be expecting more in 2021. However, how Glick’s leadership affects the progress since he raised many disagreements throughout 2019 and 2020 is a matter of wait and see. What’s achieved in terms of renewable developments and what’s to be expected going forward, including renewable issues.
A conflict of interest is likely to emerge within no time. That’s because state policies are supporting out-of-market payments to renewable energy generation and other specific generation resources. There is also the other conflicting issue of FERC’s regulations about organized markets.
Given Glick’s previous opinion regarding how committed the commission is to enforce, people should expect the level of enforcement to increase under his chairmanship. However, since he is a Democratic commissioner and President Joe Biden’s administration is on the frontline in supporting renewable energy, his previous discouragement may become a thing of the past as we advance.
Equally important, the new Chairman, back when he was an ordinary commissioner, voted against Order No. 872 regarding Qualifying Facility (QF) rules. In his defense, he felt that they were not advocating for renewable energy project development that the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) intends to encourage. If the court of appeal supports his stand, then there are high chances the rules will never see the light of the day again. On the other hand, if the court sustains the rules, there may be very little zeal from the Chairman’s side to implement them.
The commission is also likely to raise the issue of the jurisdiction that it has on carbon pricing. When the proposal was tabled, Republican Commissioner James Danly said that it was neither necessary nor wise. What happens if President Joe Biden’s administrations pursue the policy statement? The most probable outcome is a scenario where it passes with Chairman Glick, Democratic Commissioner Allison Clements, and Republican Commissioner Neil Chatterjee.