The nominee for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) chairmanship Ron Binz will have plenty of potential questions to answer today at his confirmation hearing (9:30am ET), including these posted by the Institute for Energy Research.
The importance of the Binz nomination stems in roughly equal parts from:
(1) The growing significance of FERC as an agency with new and expanded authority,
(2) The context and timing of the nomination, which comes as part of an aggressive (Congress-and-voters-be-damned) climate action plan, and
(3) The details of Ron Binz’s history as a radical (pro-renewable) regulator and energy “expert.”
To complement today’s questions posed by members of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, university economist and electricity specialist Robert Michaels would ask the nominee the following questions:
#1: You are aware that the transmission grid of most of Texas (ERCOT) operates as an in-state island separate from the Eastern and Western Interconnections. Do you favor maintaining its status, or do you believe that legislation and FERC initiatives to force closer integration would be valuable? If so, explain.
#2: If you do not favor further integration between Texas and the rest of the nation, might there be benefits from facilitating the secession of individual systems from existing regional transmission organizations (RTOs)? And if your answers differ, why?
#3: The federal government has taken a number of steps to foster the growth of renewable power, but has stopped short of imposing a nationwide renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Do you favor one? If so, how would you deal with the fact that different sections of the country will have quite different costs of compliance with it, e.g. the southeast is a poor site for both wind and solar generation.
#4: Your state of Colorado, in fact, has a very low penetration of renewables. Future plans for their expansion are a political football. What could have the Colorado Public Utilities Commission done to raise renewable power capacity and production during your tenure but did not do? And what might this have cost?
#5: Assuming that the underlying (federal) law remains unchanged, what do you hope FERC to do during your tenure to foster the growth of renewables?
#6: The members of Colorado’s PUC are elected rather than appointed like those in most states and at FERC. Would any of your policy positions have been different had you been appointed? If not, would you be indifferent as to whether regulators are appointed or elected?
#7: May we assume that you believe climate change is settled science? [Provide list of recent “denier” developments–lower climate sensitivity to GHG forcing, hurricane trends, polar ice growth, etc.] What sort of data might be required to change your views on climate change?
All of these questions are hard ones for the central planning mentality, as well as the climate alarmist.
What other questions might be asked from a pro-liberty, efficiency, consumer friendly, and taxpayer friendly perspective? Please feel free to share your questions in the comment section below!