The Nicholas Institute at Duke recently published a report that considers the energy and environmental issues that the next president will face, Illuminating the Energy Policy Agenda: Electricity Sector Issues Facing the Next Administration. The report covers federal regulation of electricity markets, climate policy, nuclear energy, natural gas, economic development, and federal government procurement.
The next administration will impact these areas through appointments to federal agencies, including filling several current vacancies at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The issue of state versus federal jurisdiction—which has been before the Supreme Court multiple times in the past year (FERC v. EPSA, Hughes v. Talen Energy)—has important implications for how state policies on generation mix and long-term planning may be implemented and is not a fully-resolved question.
The D.C. Circuit recently heard arguments in litigation over the Clean Power Plan, and a key decision for the new administration regarding the CPP may be whether or not to seek Supreme Court review of any unfavorable aspects of the court’s decision, once issued.
The new administration will likely have a number of important decisions about nuclear generation, including projected retirements, nuclear waste, second extensions of operating licenses, and possible incentives or credits for nuclear generation (such as that in New York State’s Clean Energy Standard).
Other changes in generation mix, including increased generation from natural gas and renewables, pose questions about land use, environmental regulation (such as concerns about possible threats to drinking water from hydraulic fracturing), and tax incentives—to name a few. There will also be decision points regarding programs to assist communities impacted by the decline in coal-powered generation, including the Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization (POWER) Initiative, launched by the Obama Administration in 2015.