Sue Sheridan, president and chief counsel of the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, is interviewed by host Chuck Conconi on Sen. Murkowski’s energy blueprint and other developments that could lead to Capitol Hill activity on electric transmission in 2013.
Chuck Conconi: Welcome to Focus Washington. I’m Chuck Conconi. My guest today is Sue Sheridan, president and chief counsel of the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy. Sue, thank you for coming on the show today. I’ve had you here before and I always enjoy talking to you.
Sue Sheridan: Chuck, thanks for having me back. I appreciate it.
Chuck Conconi: Well, the last time you appeared, we discussed the prospects of congressional activity on transmission issues. Update us on what you expect see ahead on Capitol Hill.
Sue Sheridan: Well, the coalition is encouraged. There seems to be a lot of attention being paid to transmission issues. There have been several events recently on the issuance of the Bipartisan Policy Center report and Senator Murkowski’s new blueprint for energy legislation that makes us feel like interest is really gelling around the issue.
Chuck Conconi: Senator Murkowski’s proposals. What does it mean? Is her blueprint going to be good for the coalition?
Sue Sheridan: Very good—because the senator included language directly from S400 bill from the last Congress that she introduced with Senators Wyden and Corker. It goes right to our concern about cost allocation and planning for new transmission facilities.
Chuck Conconi: So, there’s not going to be any difference with the new makeup, the political makeup of Congress.
Sue Sheridan: Well, we may have actually a real supporter again in the [Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s] position with Sen. Ron Wyden, who was also on that bill two years ago. He’s continued with his interest in the coalition’s concerns.
Chuck Conconi: What will the activity be like on the House side?
Sue Sheridan: Well, from what we’ve heard, the House plans to have hearings on transmission issues. We’re not sure when. There will be not only the transmission cost allocation issues that we’re concerned about but also siting issues. But there seems to be a certain critical mass forming on transmission issues.
Chuck Conconi: That’s good to hear. The Bipartisan Policy Center has also issued a massive report on electric transmission that focused on siting, which is not a coalition issue, but you believe the report will kindle interest on Capitol Hill.
Sue Sheridan: I do. I think it’s hard to take up one Federal Power Act issue without taking up the others. They are to some degree interrelated. And as you said, our coalition doesn’t work on siting. But I think it’s the attention to the transmission issues that’s going to be beneficial to our cause.
Chuck Conconi: It sounds like things are going better. Now the Wall Street Journal did an editorial on FERC and transmission and it certainly was provocative. What was your impression?
Sue Sheridan: We’re certainly glad again that attention is being paid to transmission issues. The editorial had to do with a specific case. We’re concerned more about the broad issue of Order 1000, which is the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s ongoing transmission initiative. But we think the Wall Street Journal did a good job of highlighting our concerns over the ways FERC could interpret cost allocation in a real-world case. We are a bit more comfortable with renewable resources than the Wall Street Journal’s editorial was. We’re just looking for the cheapest source of clean energy and the closest to home.
Chuck Conconi: It looks like transmission is going to be a really hot topic through this year and this Congress. What do you expect?
Sue Sheridan: Well, I think we’ll see hearings on both sides of the Hill. We’ll also start to see compliance orders out of FERC and we’ll see how we do. It’s a situation where FERC could do a very good job on the compliance issues on individual cases or it might not. We’re poised either way.
Chuck Conconi: Sue, we’re running out of time. Thank you so much for coming on the show. And we’ll have you come back because I think more is going to be happening, obviously.
Sue Sheridan: Fabulous. Thank you, Chuck.
Chuck Conconi: I’m Chuck Conconi and this has been Focus Washington.