During Columbus Day week, the U.S. House of Representatives will be in session, although the Senate is on recess. With very few legislative days left in this first session of the current Congress, the most significant activity on energy will take the form of nominations and hearings looking ahead at 2018 issues. I’ve been lucky to split time the last 4 weeks (commercial flights only!) between D.C. and states far outside the beltway, getting a small glimpse of how D.C. news plays in the real world.
The constant meme about the lack of key figures in the Trump Administration is slowly fading. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) team is filling out. I was honored to meet Region IV administrator, Trey Glenn, and Senior Adviser for Regional and State Affairs, Kenneth Wagner, at the Southern States Energy Board in late September. Both were living EPA’s renewed focus on “cooperative federalism,” spending time talking with and listening to state regulators and lawmakers. Last week, the White House announced the nomination of Andrew Wheeler as EPA Deputy Administrator. EPA will need all hands on deck as repeal of the Clean Power Plan and other major initiatives aimed at easing regulatory burdens move forward.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee recently cleared key nominations for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Rich Glick and Kevin McIntyre, as Commissioner and Chairman, respectively, will join FERC once the Senate votes on their nominations.
A fully-stocked FERC is always important, but especially so in light of growing controversy over DOE’s “Section 403” asking (telling?) FERC to issue a rule compensating baseload plants for their reliability attributes. On Thursday, Sec. Perry will appear at the House Energy and Commerce Committee to explain his 403 actions and beliefs about the importance of electric grid reliability.
Reliability was top of mind at the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation meeting in late September. I enjoyed the chance to listen and learn during discussions about hurricane recovery and future infrastructure needs. Regardless of party or other affiliations in an incredibly diverse state, attendees agreed that private sector and government partnerships are key to ensuring that energy, transportation and telecommunications are strong enough to support economic growth and opportunity for all. The crowd gave Florida’s electric utilities high marks for close coordination with federal, state and local governments throughout Irma.
Later today, I’ll speak with the Tennessee River Valley Association (TRVA), a founding PACE partner and organizational home to our Board Chairman Cline Jones. This non-partisan organization has devoted 50 years to promoting economic opportunity through smart infrastructure policy in Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Tennessee, and valley regions of Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia. As a longtime proponent of public-private partnerships, TRVA is heartened to see the Trump Administration’s focus on infrastructure development, job creation and use of all available domestic fuels. But like many of us, they are hopeful to see more D.C. news, as 2018 draws near, that tells when and how progress will manifest.