Comment on Shelley Welton, Rethinking Grid Governance for the Climate Change Era
In Rethinking Grid Governance for the Climate Change Era, Shelley Welton has incisively described the underexplored institutional role of regional transmission organizations (RTOs) in facilitating decarbonization. As an attorney who advocates within the RTO stakeholder process, and before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the federal courts, I see firsthand how the RTO processes for identifying and addressing emerging issues can succeed or be derailed, and the limitations in FERC’s ability to proactively set these processes and their outcomes straight. I agree with Welton that RTOs cannot be trusted to self-govern and that many factors militate against treating them with a lighter hand than a run-of-the-mill utility. But I am more sanguine than Prof. Shelley Welton that FERC has sufficient ability to shape RTO processes and outcomes in a manner that protects consumers and advances decarbonization.