Utilities Want Federal Renewable Energy Regulations to Provide Direction and Uniformity

Key Takeaways:

  • Nation’s largest utility CEOs demand lawmakers act
  • “It would be cleaner, easier, and more economical to have a federal standard.”
  • American consumers are the driving force for renewables

Chief executives from some of the nation’s largest utilities were explicit in their demands to Congress on the issue of climate change: the utility industry wants solutions that advance the growing renewables market through clearly defined federal legislation

Advanced by industry-leading CEOs at the Edison Electric Institute during their annual convention held in Philadelphia earlier this month, this demand is a clear sign that the industry has tired of Washington’s inaction to establish a federal law supporting the increased build-out of renewables, something American consumers are calling for with increased urgency.

A Wakeup Call to Lawmakers

Against a backdrop of solar projects becoming ever cheaper while coal plants are phasing out, utility CEOs framed their message as a wakeup call to lawmakers that the time to act on energy legislation is now. “The most efficient thing long-term is for this country at the federal level to come to grips with the situation and allow for markets to be designed that will advance what our customers want,” said Exelon’s CEO Chris Crane.  He added more reasons for a legislative solution at the federal level to help utilities develop renewables faster, stating: “It would be cleaner, easier, and more economical if we were able to have a federal standard.”

Echoing him was Dominion Energy’s CEO Thomas Farrell, who said: “Our preference is for a straightforward policy coming from Congress that will be long-lasting that we can react to, plan for, deal with, and educate our customers on.” Dominion, which along with Exelon forms part of the Climate Leadership Council pushing Congress to act on a federal carbon law, has committed to reducing emissions from its electricity production 60% by 2030, and 80% by 2050.

Grid Operators Also Want Renewable Energy Regulations

Meanwhile, federal energy regulators and grid operators have gotten behind the idea of a federal law to reduce carbon emissions and speed the transition toward renewables. Speaking at the conference, Asim Haque, an executive director at PJM, the country’s largest grid operator, said: “I would love if there was uniformity and consensus with true clarity to say, here is where policymakers want us to be. From a purely market perspective, you want to have some direction or uniformity.”

As industry pressure mounts on Congress to set a carbon price and pass a law spurring greater investments in renewables and new technologies, it is becoming clear that utility executives are eager to adapt renewables and other technologies to reduce emissions and satisfy the public demand for cleaner energy.

What We’re Reading: “Utilities Ask Congress to ‘Come to Grips’ With Clean Energy Requirements By Setting Nationwide Rules,” published in the Washington Examiner