Changes in leadership – be it a new CEO, a new chairman of the board, or a new U.S. President – normally result in changes in policies and priorities. It’s nothing new. It’s what we expect. Think back to the Clinton-Bush change in administration. Prior to leaving the White House, President Clinton supported an international plan (the Kyoto Protocol) to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. After President Bush moved into the White House, the U.S. rejected the plan. The U.S. energy agenda changed directions.
With the election of Donald Trump, U.S. energy policies may once again change directions. One issue already in the news involves Federal carbon regulation. Under President Obama, the Environmental Protection Agency rolled out a plan to address carbon pollution standards. A key part of that plan is the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which sets national standards designed to reduce carbon emissions from existing power plants. While the Obama Administration pushed to have the plan implemented, President-elect Trump campaigned to have it thrown out. So what will a Trump presidency mean for the CPP? What will that mean for MISO, its members and the 42 million Americans in our region? Right now, it’s too early to tell for sure. Here’s what we can tell you:
MISO understands the heightened interest in Federal carbon regulation. We are monitoring the external landscape, as we always do. One of our responsibilities is to ensure awareness of decisions (or actions) that could be of interest to stakeholders. Decisions that may impact the region and our business. We will keep stakeholders informed of those decisions and/or actions when they occur.
Environmental regulations, such as the CPP, affect which fuels are used to generate electricity. Economics also play a major role. It makes sense that least cost electricity comes from using least cost fuels. Over the past eight years, MISO’s generation fleet evolved from a primarily coal-based fleet to a more balanced mix of coal, natural gas, and renewables. We expect that trend to continue regardless of how the Administration moves on the CPP. It comes down to economics. With natural gas prices as low as they are, it may be difficult for coal to survive. The pie charts below show the decrease in coal use from 73% in 2009 to 46% today. Whatever the portfolio mix may be, our efficient energy markets we will ensure the delivery of reliable least cost electricity
The great news is that MISO’s value-based planning process is designed to handle any planned or unplanned changes to the grid. Our expert analysts study and model a diverse set of planning scenarios that look years into the future. Our models assess and identify which investments in generation and transmission provide the greatest reliability and cost savings. We work closely with our stakeholders to make sure our models address their needs and answer the questions they may have when new environmental policies are under consideration. We will continue to study and provide our members and States with data driven analyses and models – information they can use to ensure reliable service and save customers money.
The election of a new president brings many unknowns. Campaign promises were made. How will they be achieved? However the Administration decided to move forward, MISO is ready. We will continue working closely with our stakeholders to ensure our efficient markets, sophisticated planning and reliable operations keep the lights on for the 42 million Americans in our region.