The Senate approved its version of the energy bill, which differs substantially from the House version. That means that the hard work remains to be done in conference.
Many of the electricity provisions are common to both, so are unlikely to change. I have no great objections to the electricity provisions; I am least enthusiastic about the mandatory reliability standards, but was comforted last week by a Congressional staffer who gave me some details of how the standard-setting is described and the detail and precision to which the standards themselves are defined in the legislation (happily, not detailed). In other words, I was concerned that the mandatory provision would enshrine the expensive construction of “gold-plated” transmission networks, and while I remain concerned that we are too focused on building our way to reliability instead of being creative and bringing demand resources and new technologies to bear, it’s not as bad as I feared. And I believe that both versions retain the repeal of PUHCA, which is long overdue.
But the gold rush to the ethanol rent seekers persists, in both versions, and more emphatically in the Senate version. The Senate continues to labor under the delusion that ethanol from corn is a clean fuel that produces a net positive amount of energy. The House does too, but the delusion is less backed with dollars flowing to the industry there.