The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a formal oversight hearing for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 12, 2018, with all five commissioners present for the first time in a decade. FERC is responsible for regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, oil, and natural gas, and plays an integral role in reviewing proposals to build natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and providing licenses for hydroelectric power projects.
On May 10, the House passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act of 2018 (H.R. 3053). The bill would resume and expedite licensing for the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository and authorize the Department of Energy (DOE) to construct an interim storage facility for consolidation and temporary storage of nuclear waste in New Mexico until the completion of a permanent facility. The FY 2019 Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill (S. 2975) does not include funding for Yucca Mountain storage, but the House bill (H.R. 5895) would provide $268 million to restart the adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on January 23 that underscored concerns surrounding the reliability and resiliency of the electrical power system, particularly under certain weather conditions. Experts on the witness panel discussed the overall performance of nation’s grid during recent cold weather events, and potential areas for improvement.
On January 8, the Federal Energy Regulation Commission (FERC) rejected a proposal that was submitted by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry in September 2017 to subsidize the operating costs of coal and nuclear power plants, since the rule did not satisfy certain statutory standards. However, FERC also recognized that this issue warrants further attention and initiated a new proceeding to specifically evaluate the resilience of the bulk power system in certain operating regions.