First Solar backs carbon pricing for wholesale electricity

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First Solar has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to convene a technical conference or workshop on carbon pricing of electricity in wholesale energy markets.

First Solar’s request is in support of a petition, submitted by stakeholders including the American Council on Renewable Energy and Advanced Energy Economy, asking FERC to convene a carbon pricing discussion.

“A carbon pricing mechanism is the most economically efficient tool to assist specific regions in privatizing what is currently an unpriced, socialized externality,” First Solar said in its comments. The firm said it is a founding member of the international Climate Leadership Council, which supports carbon pricing as a “cost-effective, equitable and politically viable climate solution.”

Six Senators and New York

Six U.S. Senators have also asked FERC to convene a carbon pricing discussion, saying that the New York, New Jersey, PJM and California grid operators “have all taken steps or made statements supporting the policy outlined in the petition.”

The New York grid operator “has taken the most concrete steps and is actively working on a proposal exploring how a carbon price could be integrated into their energy market,” the Senators said. “Initial NYISO reporting shows that [carbon pricing] could help the state reach its stated climate policy goals, while bringing in billions in economic benefits to the state.”

The Solar Energy Industries Association and seven solar developers early this year called for carbon pricing for wholesale electricity in New York.

FERC filed a notice in its docket describing the initial petition as a request for the Commission to hold “a technical conference or workshop to discuss integrating state, regional, and national carbon pricing in FERC-jurisdictional organized regional wholesale electric energy markets.”

First Solar is the largest solar manufacturer in the U.S. The six Senators who co-authored the letter to FERC are Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Martin Heinrich (NM), Brian Schatz (HI), Ron Wyden (OR), Cory Booker (NJ) and Angus King (ME). All are Democrats except King, who is independent.

The filings from First Solar and other parties are available in the FERC docket library, under docket AD20-14.