New FERC chairman may favor renewables and smart grid, but hurt coal

Tools

By: SGN Staff

1

Quick Take:Current FERC chairman Jon Wellinghoff has been an important friend to the smart grid. Good news – his replacement appears to be equally grid-savvy. - By Jesse Berst

 

U.S. President Barack Obama has nominated the former head of Colorado's Public Utilities Commission to chair the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Ronald Binz headed the Colorado PUC from 2007 to 2011. Before that he was the Colorado advocate for energy consumers.

 

During his watch, he oversaw rules requiring utilities to increase the amount of renewable energy. What's more, he was central to a controversial incentive to utilities for closing coal-fired plants. As the Associated Press noted, his nomination comes as the coal industry is criticizing Obama for "waging a war on coal."

 

But Binz is about more than just renewables – he also understands the importance of a smart grid. According to the Washington Post, several energy experts say he understands how the nation’s current electricity distribution system “has been designed over decades to encourage coal and nuclear” rather than distributed sources of electricity. As we have noted many times here at Smart Grid News, the transition to distributed energy resources is one of the biggest challenges facing the electric power industry.