Legislative Announcements


DOE Issues Report on Strategic Transformer Reserve

Update provided by Meguire Whitney 

On April 10, the Department of Energy released a report to Congress entitled “Strategic Transformer Reserve.” The Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, in conjunction with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and other government and private stakeholders, had been directed in the FAST Act to prepare a plan for developing a reserve of transformers that could be accessed in the event of an emergency that disables or destroys transformers affecting military installations and other critical infrastructure.

In the summer of 2015, the DOE sought comments from stakeholders, including utilities and utility trade associations, on how the department should develop a policy for a national reserve of power transformers. Industry responded by expressing its desire that any new policy not duplicate existing efforts. According to the report, “Respondents recommended that a strategic transformer reserve, if established, be owned and administered by the industry or even utilities themselves, with appropriate input or funding from the government.”

The DOE also considered NERC’s Critical Infrastructure Protection Reliability Standard (CIP-014-2) that “requires that transmission owners and operators identify their transmission stations and substations critical to grid stability, evaluate the vulnerability of their facilities to physical attack, and develop and implement documented physical security plans.”

After considering stakeholder feedback conducting an extensive technical analysis, the DOE “does not recommend creation of a federally owned reserve.” Rather, the Department recommends “encouraging and supporting an industry-based option driven by voluntary industry actions” and standards approved through the existing FERC/NERC process. The DOE intends to re-evaluate in one year how it can work with FERC and the electricity industry in meeting that objective and determine whether additional government action is warranted.

NWPPA has a standing resolution favoring the FERC/NERC process for developing cybersecurity standards.

E&C Republican Leaders Tell President to Fill NRC Slots

Update provided by Meguire Whitney 

On April 12, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Greg Walden (R–Ore.), along with top lieutenants Fred Upton (R–Mich.) and John Shimkus (R–Ill.), who chair the Subcommittees on Energy and Environment, respectively, sent a short letter to President Trump asking that he nominate individuals to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The panel will lose a quorum on July 1 if current Chair Kristine Svinicki’s term ends and she has not been renominated or another candidate has not been confirmed.

Unlike the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which cannot do business without a quorum (and has been in such a state since February 3), the NRC becomes a single-administrator agency in the absence of a quorum. If Svinicki rotates off, however, that role will fall to Obama-era Chair Steven Burns.

Senate Dems Send Letter to Pruitt on Conflicts of Interest

Update provided by Meguire Whitney 

On April 7, 10 Senate Democrats sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt, demanding documentation from the EPA’s Designated Agency Ethics Officer authorizing Pruitt’s actions related to reviewing the Clean Power Plan and asking the D.C. Circuit to hold the case challenging the rule in abeyance.

Pruitt had pledged in his confirmation hearings to seek such authorization to address any conflict of interest arising from his role as Oklahoma attorney general. The group of senators, led by Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Tom Carper (D–Del.), pointed out that Pruitt had represented Oklahoma in litigation over the Clean Power Plan, triggering the need for ethics authorization or recusal.

In addition to Carper, Sens. Jeff Merkley (D­–Ore.), Kamala Harris (D–Calif.), and Maria Cantwell (D­–Wash.) signed on.

Vought and Rao Head to the Office of Management and Budget

Update provided by Meguire Whitney 

On April 7, President Trump named former vice president of Heritage Action for America, Russ Vought, as deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, where he will serve under Director Mick Mulvaney. Prior to joining Heritage Action, Vought spent 12 years on Capitol Hill in both the House of Representatives and Senate, which included a stint under then-Representative Mike Pence as policy director for the House Republican Conference.

The Heritage Foundation, a think tank connected to Heritage Action for America, released a budget document recommending selling off the nation’s power marketing administrations. NWPPA has a resolution opposing the sale of PMAs.

Additionally, Neomi Rao, a George Mason law professor, was nominated to lead the OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. OIRA develops and oversees “the implementation of government-wide policies in areas of information technology, information policy, privacy, and statistical policy.” Rao previously served in all three branches of government including as associate counsel to President George W. Bush, counsel for nominations and constitutional law to the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and law clerk to Justice Clarence Thomas of the U.S. Supreme Court.