Regulator Prods Cyber Defense | New Manager at Pierce Pepin | Clean Power Plan Suits Ended | TMI Retired


Regulator Prods Cyber Defense

The top U.S. energy regulator says drone attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil production infrastructure this summer should be a wake-up call for stronger defense of U.S. natural gas pipelines.

Neil Chatterjee, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (and former National Rural Electric Cooperative Association lobbyist), warned that a successful attack could cause widespread blackouts because of the U.S. power grid’s growing dependency on pipelines for its fuel supply.

In the past, Chatterjee said, an attack or other event disabling a pipeline might have had some level of effect on one power plant. But with the ongoing shift away from generation facilities that maintain fuel supplies on-site—in effect, away from coal and nuclear—and the corresponding growth in gas-fired generation and pipeline dependency, many plants could be shut down by a single pipeline rendered inoperable, he said.

He was quoted in a CNN story saying “An outage could really have significant cascading effects and our adversaries know this.”

New Manager at Pierce Pepin

Nathan Boettcher took the reins as president and chief executive officer at Ellsworth-based Pierce Pepin Cooperative Services, effective October 1. He succeeds Larry Dokkestul, who held the position since 2008 and whose retirement took effect on the same date.

Boettcher comes to Pierce Pepin (PPCS) from the National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC) in Lake Saint Louis, Missouri.

He is a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck, North Dakota, holding an MBA and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.

Clean Power Plan Suits Ended

A consolidated array of lawsuits filed in 2015 by a majority of the 50 states, power providers, and other interests to overturn the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan was swept away this fall by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on grounds that the still-pending litigation was moot because a replacement regulation is in place.

The Trump administration’s replacement, the Affordable Clean Energy rule, took effect in September.

Pending litigation now seeks to overturn the replacement rule and reinstate the Clean Power Plan, which was finalized but not put into effect.

The Clean Power Plan was never implemented as a 5-4 U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that it sought to extend Environmental Protection Agency authority beyond its lawful bounds under the Clean Air Act.

TMI Retired

In September, Chicago-based Exelon Corp. took Unit 1 of the Three Mile Island nuclear plant off line for the first time in 709 days and for the last time ever, retiring the plant ahead of schedule after state legislation to subsidize its operations failed.

The 1979 partial core meltdown of the plant’s Unit 2—long since dismantled—caused no casualties but devastated the U.S. nuclear energy industry. Completing the nation’s newest nuclear plant took more than four decades, and the sole U.S. project under active construction is years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.

In a press release, Exelon nuclear chief Bryan Hanson deemed it “regrettable” that Pennsylvania doesn’t subsidize nuclear generation, and called on power markets to recognize value in emissions-free generation.