EDITOR’S NOTE: The Energy Times recently discussed the most pressing energy issues of the day with a panel of state regulators, including the top leadership of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, at their summer meeting in Nashville. The exchange, edited for style and length, was sponsored by Oracle Utilities. This is part of a five-part series
Philip Jones – Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission, past president of NARUC
Travis Kavulla – Montana Public Service Commission, president of the NARUC
Richard Mroz – New Jersey Board of Public Utilities
Robert Powelson – Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, incoming president of the NARUC in 2017
Scott Rupp – Missouri Public Service Commission
Greg White – National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, executive director
ENERGY TIMES: What should a President Donald Trump or a President Hillary Clinton do in energy policy?
MROZ: The first issue is to focus on the nuclear industry, both existing nuclear and new nuclear technology, such as small modular reactors. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy have not moved ahead aggressively.
JONES: I would say propose a carbon tax. It probably won't pass. Then, as creative utilities often do, propose something in the alternative. Nuclear would not be my highest option. We need to streamline and consolidate all of the incentives for coal, nuclear and renewables’ production tax credits. Then work with the states because all of the action over the past decade has been at the state level.
KAVULLA: The first order of business of any administration should be figuring out the end result that they want. What is the goal that they want to achieve? If you have a President Clinton, I would expect methane to be regulated in a very big way that affects natural gas production and more stringent greenhouse gas emission standards. I would expect the clean power plan to be upheld in the Supreme Court and probably strengthened. If Donald Trump becomes president, I would expect the clean power plan to be withdrawn, neutered or not upheld by the court.
RUPP: They have to change the narrative. It needs to get to ‘this is the energy policy for our country.’ How it is going to affect your life, not global warming, not emissions? Get it out of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Have a clear vision of where we are going as a country.
MROZ: Our country's energy policy has become driven by the environmental policy. Let's talk about energy policy and the things that a new federal government should do.
POWELSON: Coming from an energy production state, I believe that the first 100 days of a new president’s term is really for setting up the theme of ‘we can be an energy independent country.’ It is an all the above and all the below strategy. It is leading us to a path of a diversified fleet. In the PJM footprint, the fleet is getting cleaner. The market is working, and now it is just a question at the national policy level of setting that tone.
KAVULLA: Maybe the question could be, ‘what policy will achieve the greatest net present value for American energy production?’ That's the way of phrasing it in a technologically neutral way that focuses on the productivity of the American economy.
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