This year, the Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA) marked a quarter century of advocating for well-functioning competitive wholesale electricity markets – and better outcomes for power customers. Since 1997, EPSA has shared our belief that competitive markets provide the best foundation to reliably power the nation’s homes and businesses at the lowest cost for consumers while fostering innovation and environmental progress.
For more than two decades, competitive electricity markets and independent power generators have unlocked savings for consumers, enhanced reliability, improved our environment, and unleashed energy innovation. From the start, EPSA has been proud to be a champion for these generation companies and marketers, and to support policies that encourage competition to benefit consumers.
This year was no different, with heightened electric reliability concerns and grid disturbances shining more light on the need to maintain dispatchable generation and allow competitive electricity markets to appropriately value reliability while still fostering innovation, efficiency, and emissions reductions as the resource mix changes. As 2022 wraps up, we want to take a look back at key energy issues and the progress EPSA and its members have made in promoting reliable, affordable, and lower-emitting energy solutions throughout the energy transition.
Here are just a few of our highlights and key energy policy discussions from the past year:
Fought for Grid Reliability
Following the tragic and extensive power outages in Texas in 2021, summer resource challenges that led California and other U.S. states close to rolling blackouts this summer, we head into 2023 freshly aware of the challenges facing the power system. Extreme cold sent the nation’s largest grid operator calling for conservation and North and South Carolina customers (among others) having electric service shut off over the Christmas holiday weekend. In addition, a series of physical attacks to power stations across the U.S. left tens of thousands without power including most recently, in Tacoma, W.A. All of these events highlight the importance of a demonstrable commitment to power system reliability – especially as leaders call for a shift to a more electrified economy, which will further increase the demand for reliable generation.
EPSA remains a staunch advocate for a more reliable grid, calling on FERC Chairman Richard Glick to commit to developing sound policies that ensure access to dispatchable power as the grid transitions to cleaner sources of energy and consistently advocating for policymakers to put reliability first by levelling the playing field for all energy solutions and embracing competition to drive the innovation needed to achieve government mandated, net-zero goals.
Continued to Advocate for Competitive Solutions
Staying true to our core principles, EPSA continued to support increased competition to drive better outcomes for consumers and the power system.
As FERC considers how to best encourage the construction of significant amounts of transmission infrastructure needed to support a reliable and lower carbon grid, EPSA called on the Commission to keep the process as competitive as possible – warning against the adoption of a “Right of First Refusal” practice that would chill investment in new technology and drive up the cost to consumers. Our message was echoed by both the Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission, in keeping with President Biden’s Executive Order urging “a fair, open, and competitive marketplace” to promote better economic and social outcomes.
“Competition is still the best way to ensure that our electric grid is built out in a way that lowers rates, increases innovation, and improves sustainability and resiliency,” said Elizabeth Wilkins, Director of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning. “Granting a right of first refusal for transmission upgrade proposals to incumbent monopoly electricity providers without first exhausting procompetitive alternatives ill serves electricity customers,” she added.
We also voiced support for efforts to expand electric competition in the West, but noted that establishing a regional competitive energy market would do even more to mitigate increasing stress on the Western U.S. power grid as extreme weather events such as heat and drought continue to assail the region.
Joined Energy Leaders to Curb FERC Overreach
In November, EPSA joined seven other leading energy trade groups in calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to rescind its expanded duty of candor obligation. EPSA, the American Petroleum Institute, Edison Electric Institute, Energy Trading Institute, the Interstate Natural Gas Association of America, the Natural Gas Supply Association, the National Hydropower Association, and the PJM Power Providers Group filed joint comments in response to FERC’s Duty of Candor Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (RM22-20), noting that the new proposal is “extraordinarily broad” and vulnerable to legal challenges.
In a statement, EPSA President and CEO Todd Snitchler voiced concerns held by EPSA and the other involved trade groups, reiterating EPSA’s regard for “truthfulness and accuracy” in all communications, and pointing out that the “overly broad and ill-defined” framework of the new Duty of Candor, as well as “significant legal and policy flaws,” may be detrimental for critical communications between regulators and system operators. “Additionally, the proposal lacks factual support and explanation, raises First Amendment concerns, and does not include any intent and materiality provisions – all of which create ambiguity over the Commission’s authority to implement the proposed rule.” Snitchler urged FERC to rescind the proposal to better support clearer communications between all involved in power service, from Commissioners to power generators.
EPSA Competitive Power Summit
In late March, EPSA held its inaugural Competitive Power Summit, which brought together leading experts, policymakers, and business representatives from across the electricity space in person at its new annual Competitive Power Summit to find solutions to the challenges America’s grid faces.
The summit assessed vital questions about the benefits competition has brough to the grid, the challenges markets face today, and the future of the electric grid during the energy transition.
EPSA later highlighted many of these discussion in episodes of our Energy Solutions podcast. Some of these topics included how competitive power suppliers can address reliability challenges now and into the future, how power producers can continue to meet demand while reducing emissions, and how to ensure reliability and affordability in a just energy transition.
We are looking forward to welcoming everyone back for the second annual 2023 Competitive Power Summit in the spring.
In February, EPSA released new polling data showing that reliability, affordability and transparency are Americans’ top three priorities when it comes to energy policy, according to a landmark poll conducted by Morning Consult.
Following President Biden’s State of the Union Address, which outlined the Administration’s energy and environment priorities, the poll release offered insight into strategies to lower consumer costs and align policies with voter concerns. U.S. adults surveyed expressed broad support for competition and widespread opposition to granting companies monopoly power over energy markets. They also agreed that market competition provides positive outcomes for reliability, consumers, technological and clean energy innovation and the environment.
Reliability and affordability were the clear priorities for U.S. adults when thinking about the energy grid that powers their home, along with transparency into energy prices.
- 97% of U.S. adults surveyed said reliability is important, with 82% saying it is very important.
- 97% of U.S. adults said affordability is important, with 82% saying it is very important.
- 93% of poll respondents said transparency into energy prices is important, a new addition to EPSA’s previous polling.
Credit: Morning Consult for EPSA, 2022
Added New Leadership
The new year also brought some new faces to EPSA. In October, EPSA welcomed Jeffrey D. Turcotte as assistant vice president of government affairs.
Turcotte brings a deep level of policy and advocacy expertise to the position. He joins EPSA from ISO New England, where he most recently served as senior advisor, federal affairs, after joining the organization in 2010. Previously, he served as director of federal affairs at The New England Council, leading the Council’s Energy & Environment Committee. Prior to that, he was communications director and budget analyst on the U.S. Senate Budget Committee, having been appointed by Senator Judd Gregg (R-NH) after having served in Gregg’s personal office since 1999, including as press secretary from 2000-2005.
Turcotte added, “EPSA members – and the competitive markets they support – are vital to a clean energy transition that ensures electric grid reliability and rewards economic efficiency and innovation. I look forward to my new role working to advance competitive energy solutions on a national scale – and I am grateful to the remarkable and dedicated staff at ISO New England and my former colleagues for a great 12+ years, and I wish them well as they continue to tackle challenges that grow more difficult by the day.”
Looking Ahead to 2023
With national regulators and grid operators citing growing challenges to the integrity of the electric grid and a growing tide of states reexamining policies that have failed to put reliability first, EPSA sees 2023 as a year of both risk and opportunity.
EPSA will continue it role as the foremost advocate for competitive power markets as the best pathway to provide reliable and affordable power to every American while still meeting our environmental goals.
EPSA is also proud to announce that our annual Competitive Power Summit will be taking place March 21, 2023, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. The event will include expert panels and speakers discussing critical issues facing competitive power and the U.S. electric system.
Find out more here.