Monday, May 21, 2012

FERC Policy Regarding Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has released a policy statement that outlines how it will advise EPA on requests for extra time for electric generators to comply with the new Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule. FERC says the policy addresses the need for timeliness, fairness, and transparency while respecting FERC's jurisdiction over reliability of the electric power system. FERC notes that the statement is not a policy regarding how it will handle all electric reliability concerns arising from compliance with EPA regulations.
Electric generators have 3 years to comply with the MATS. Some generators will be eligible for a 1-year extension and possibly an additional year if they need to meet specific reliability concerns. FERC's policy statement addresses this final year to comply. The Commission points out that any decision on whether to grant this additional time, and the extent to which FERC's advice is considered, rests entirely with EPA.

The FERC policy statement says:
  • Generators should submit copies of their requests to EPA for extra time for compliance to FERC as informational filings.
  • FERC's Office of Electric Reliability will lead the review of the filings under the Commission's general investigative authority; the reviews will examine whether compliance with EPA's rule could result in a violation of a FERC-approved reliability standard or other issues within FERC's jurisdiction.
  • There are no specifically required analyses to show that operation of a generating unit beyond the compliance date is critical to maintain reliability, though informational filings should provide the types of data used by the Commission to examine potential violations of its mandatory reliability standards.
  • The Commission will not seek comments on the informational filings, though EPA requires that requests for extra time contain any written comments by other parties. The EPA policy encourages such comments, which should be included in the informational filings.

When considering extension requests, FERC recommends EPA also seek advice from other reliability experts such as state regulators, regional market operators, planning authorities, and the North American Electric Reliability Corp. and its affiliated regional entities.

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