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Reports on Climate Change Findings from University of South Carolina Provide New Insights (Rethinking Grid Governance for the Climate Change Era)

NewsRx Policy and Law Daily

2021 APR 15 (NewsRx) -- By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at NewsRx Policy and Law Daily -- Researchers detail new data in Climate Change. According to news reporting out of Columbia, South Carolina, by NewsRx editors, the research stated, “The electricity sector is often appropriately called the linchpin of efforts to respond to climate change. Over the next few decades, the U.S. electricity sector will need to double in size to accommodate electric vehicles, while transforming to run entirely on clean energy.”

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the University of South Carolina, “To drive this transformation, states are increasingly adopting 100 percent clean energy targets. But fossil fuel corporations are pushing back, seeking to maintain their structural domination of the U.S. energy sector. This Article calls attention to one central but underscrutinized way that these companies impede the clean energy transition: incumbent fossil fuel companies essentially run the United States’ electricity grid, writing its rules in ways that favor their private interests at the expense of societal goals. In most of the country, entities known as Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) manage the electricity grid under Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) oversight. These organizations, formed in the late 1990s, have a distinct intellectual lineage in the privatization and new governance movements of that time. Most RTOs are structured as private industry clubs, in which industry members ‘vote’ on the rules for regional electricity markets and grid operation. This governance arrangement has proven successful at maintaining a reliable grid but often serves as an impediment to progress on clean energy. Over the twenty years of their existence, many RTOs have resisted incorporating clean energy and energy conservation measures into their grids and market rules, despite strong evidence that treating these resources commensurately would lower costs and improve market functionality. Now, several regions are pursuing reforms in the name of ‘investor confidence’ and ‘fuel security’ that privilege coal and natural gas resources-the same fossil fuels that many states are trying to phase out of their energy mix. This Article contends that the United States’ functionally privatized mode of electricity governance must be reevaluated as regulatory priorities shift in response to climate change. U.S. electricity law suffers from a gaping and growing accountability gap, in which neither FERC nor states have the authority needed to make electricity markets bend to democratically established prerogatives that harm industry incumbents. To remedy the situation, federal and state regulators need more robust authority to shape energy market rules to public aims.”

According to the news editors, the research concluded: “Drawing from informative differences across RTOs, the Article concludes with four reform pathways, suggesting that FERC or Congress might (1) pare back RTOs’ responsibilities, (2) enhance state and federal oversight capabilities, (3) police corporate agglomeration in the sector, and (4) explore public ownership or control over the grid.”

This research has been peer-reviewed.

For more information on this research see: Rethinking Grid Governance for the Climate Change Era. California Law Review, 2021;109(1):209-275. California Law Review can be contacted at: Univ California Berkeley Sch Law, Boat Hall, 588 Simon Hall, Berkeley, CA 94720-7200, USA.

Our news journalists report that additional information may be obtained by contacting Shelley Welton, University of South Carolina, School of Law, Columbia, SC 29208, United States.

The direct object identifier (DOI) for that additional information is: This DOI is a link to an online electronic document that is either free or for purchase, and can be your direct source for a journal article and its citation.


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