It appears that another one of my wishes was just granted: a progressive force in the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. If FERC chief nominee Ron Binz lives up to what I’ve read about him, he really is the man for the job, as he appears to be both willing and able to rewrite the way utilities are regulated, paving the way for a far more aggressive tack vis-à-vis energy efficiency and renewables.
One of Binz’ recent projects, “Utilities 2020” is summarized:
As practiced today, regulation provides limited motivation for utilities to innovate, diversify to manage risks, or to undertake new efficiencies. Meaningful dialogue among utilities, regulators and other stakeholders is often difficult. And frustrated utility executives and customers often take their cases to state legislatures, with predictably imperfect results.
The time is ripe to explore a revised compact among utilities, regulators and the consumers they serve. Through a series of in-depth discussions with executives, regulators, and consumer and industry thought leaders, we will explore evolving utility business models and the regulatory designs needed to transform them. The goal of this project is nothing less than changing the way utilities and their regulators think and behave.
Apparently Binz stands ready to craft a wholesale rethinking of the way we incent and regulate our power utilities – an absolute requirement if the U.S. is to make progress in clean energy.
And the solar industry positively loves the guy. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) writes:
President Obama has made an outstanding choice to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Ron Binz has the experience and vision needed to help America ramp up the transition to clean energy sources, including solar. He also has a keen understanding of both the regulatory process and the complexities of today’s electricity distribution system. What’s more, he has been a true champion over the years of energy efficiency, renewable energy and the need to embrace innovative new technologies. SEIA applauds his choice to become FERC chairman, and we look forward to working with him on ways to expand solar deployment across the United States.
Wow, it really has been a good week around here.