Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Lights out for Federal Electric Deregulation

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Lights out for Federal Electric Deregulation

Article excerpt

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has opted not to address comprehensive electric utility deregulation during the 106th Congress. Instead in a June 21 voice vote, the committee passed legislation sponsored by Senator Slade Gorton (R-Wash.) that addresses only the reliability of the nation's electricity supply.

The Senate's failure to pass comprehensive legislation is good news for cities, because it tables consideration of S. 2098, which contained dangerous pre-emption provisions, including powers of federal eminent domain for the siting of transmission facilities.

Committee Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska) abandoned his plans to mark up the more comprehensive S. 2098 after negotiations with ranking committee member Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) failed. T

The two senators could not reach agreement on issues on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) oversight authority and renewable energy standards.

The reliability-only bill passed by the committee, S. 2071, attempts to ensure electric service reliability by establishing an organization that would set and enforce standards for electricity transmission.

The body would be governed by industry representatives and overseen by FERC.

The National League of Cities and its partners in the State and Local Government Electric Industry Restructuring Coalition were able to clarify and protect state and local authority in the legislation, with a substitute amendment that was approved by the committee. The amendment directs FERC to establish regional advisory bodies comprised of area officials. …

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