This bill seeks to reform a variety of regulatory activities carried out by the Dept. of Energy (DOE) with the goal of promoting energy efficiency, improving the reliability of energy-related infrastructure, and enhancing the security of North America’s energy supply.
Certain types of electric infrastructure would be designated as ‘critical’ for the purposes of enacting emergency measures if the nation’s power grid is disrupted. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) would be responsible for maintaining a list of facilities designated as being of critical importance.
Before any rule or regulation issued by a federal agency that impacts electric utilities generating power, FERC would complete a required reliability analysis so as to determine how the change affects:
Electric reliability and resource adequacy;
The electricity generation portfolio of the U.S.;
The operation of wholesale electricity markets;
Energy delivery and infrastructure, including electric transmission facilities and natural gas pipeline.
Regional transmission organizations (RTO) and independent system operators (ISO) that operate a capacity market would be required to provide FERC with an analysis of how:
The market uses competitive market forces in procuring capacity resources;
The structure of such market includes resource-neutral performance criteria that ensure procurement comes from facilities that have certain reliability attributes to ensure operation continues for an extended period of time.
Federal and state agencies would be able to use aerial or remotely gathered data in their application to FERC as long as the data can be verified by a subsequent onsite inspection.
Licensing for hydroelectric power production would flow through FERC, which would be designated as the lead agency for compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). FERC would be responsible for identifying and notifying governmental entities at the federal, state, local, and tribal levels that might weigh in on applications.
The Secretaries of Energy and State would be directed to collaborate on establishing a framework for evaluating the security of energy markets for the U.S. and its allies. It would also include criteria to gauge how energy-related policies impact:
Consumers and the economy;
Energy supply diversity and resiliency;
Well-functioning and competitive energy markets;
U.S. trade balance;
National security objectives.
A North American Energy Security Plan would be developed by the Secretaries of Energy and State, in addition to relevant congressional committees within one year. It would attempt to improve planning and coordination with Canada and Mexico on energy policy issues, in addition to consulting with other governmental or private sector participants.
Also, the Secretaries of Energy and State would support energy diplomacy abroad in order to bolster the energy security of U.S. allies and trading partners. This would entail international forums with both Trans-Pacific and Trans-Atlantic partners and discuss the condition of global energy markets, relevant trade and investment issues, and barriers to more competitive markets.
The process for authorizing the export of liquefied natural gas would include a 30 day deadline for the DOE to complete its required environmental review under NEPA.
Federal agency may buy electric energy generated by municipal solid waste to satisfy renewable energy purchase requirements if the electricity is separately collected from paper that is normally recycled and is processed in a way that segregates recyclable paper and solid waste.
Existing federal building energy efficiency improvement targets would be extended, while a requirement to reduce agencies’ use of fossil fuels by 100 percent for the year 2030 would be repealed.
The process of creating building energy codes would be made more transparent by requiring the DOE to make proposed changes publicly available. Proposals would also be required to go through the standard federal rulemaking process by allowing for a public comment period, while taking into account small business concerns. DOE would also be prohibited for advocating for certain technologies, building materials, or construction practices that have a payback period of 10 years or less.
This bill also includes provisions repealing numerous reports and plans, some which are replaced by new reports and plans required by this legislation. Among the repealed studies include those on methanol, weatherization, coal policy, and reports to Congress and the General Services Administration.