SELC challenges FERC’s approval of new energy trading platform
WASHINGTON — The Southern Environmental Law Center, along with a coalition of clean energy advocates, national and regional environmental groups, and energy equity organizations, has filed an appeal asking the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals to review and set aside orders issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approving the Southeast Energy Exchange Market.
In a series of orders, FERC approved a controversial new energy trading platform known as the “SEEM.” Proposed by the South’s largest transmission-owning monopoly utilities, SEEM creates a new, free transmission service for buyers and sellers of wholesale electricity, but gives the utilities unfettered discretion to exclude independent clean energy generators from accessing this valuable resource and includes no independent oversight. Without equal access to transmission, independent clean energy generators could be forced to pay more to sell the electricity they produce, while monopoly utilities and their expensive, carbon-intensive generation resources get a free pass.
By providing a means to prop up uneconomic, dirty utility-owned resources and disadvantaging low-cost, renewable energy, SEEM could drive up energy costs for communities who are already struggling with high monthly electric bills. In the South, nearly five million houses already face a high or severe energy burden. By disadvantaging independent clean energy generators, SEEM could also slow the region’s much-needed transition to clean energy.
SELC and its partners voiced these and other concerns before FERC and made multiple recommendations on ways to improve SEEM’s design in order to prevent undue discrimination and increase oversight.
“This case is about the fundamental principle of open access and the Commission’s obligation to enforce that principle to protect market participants and consumers,” said SELC Staff Attorney Maia Hutt. “Should SEEM be allowed to move forward, it must include open-access to transmission and accountability mechanisms that ensure that SEEM does not benefit utilities at the expense of customers.”
SELC filed the appeal today on behalf of Energy Alabama, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, Partnership for Southern Equity, Sierra Club, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, Southface Institute, and Vote Solar. Advanced Energy Economy, Clean Energy Buyers Association, and the Solar Energy Industries Association. The Natural Resources Defense Council joined in the appeal.
Several Southeastern utilities—including some of the largest in the country like Southern Company, Duke Energy, and Dominion Energy—filed a proposal in February 2021 with FERC to create the Southeast Energy Exchange Market, a proposal that was challenged by SELC representing several public interest organizations throughout the region.
Concerned about the impact SEEM would have on customer bills and clean energy development in the South, SELC opposed the proposal on behalf of Energy Alabama, Sierra Club, South Carolina Coastal Conservation League, GASP, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Southface Energy Institute, Inc., Vote Solar, Georgia Interfaith Power and Light, Georgia Conservation Voters, and Partnership for Southern Equity.
SELC and its partners urged FERC to critically evaluate the proposal and ensure that the proposed market does not benefit monopoly utilities at the cost of communities and the environment in the Southeast.