TAPS has been the voice focused exclusively on Congress on behalf of transmission-dependent utilities since before 1992, and was very active in efforts to mold and pass the Energy Policy Act of 1992. For the first time, this Act gave the FERC clear authority to order private transmission owners to provide open access to transmission-dependent utilities, marketers and others. TAPS was the primary advocate for transmission-dependent systems in the legislative debate.
TAPS lobbyists worked to impact the language in what is now Sections 211 and 212 of the Federal Power Act (FPA) and got crucial language, that would have undercut the just and reasonable standard on transmission pricing, changed. TAPS members were also critical in shaping the Senate colloquy language on non-discriminatory transmission access, which supported FERC’s adoption of its standard requiring “comparable” access.
During that congressional debate, TAPS was one of the four or five key participants in the negotiations to add a regional transmission group (RTG) provision in the bill. Other participants were the Large Public Power Council and EEI – who were allied – independent power producers, DOE and FERC. While an RTG provision ultimately was not enacted in the 1992 Act, the negotiations provided the impetus for FERC to issue, first, a policy promoting RTGs and then to move to the concept of independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs). The 1992 Act resulted in FERC requiring all private utilities to provide transmission service to transmission-dependent utilities, marketers and others.
TAPS later engaged in multi-year lobbying efforts leading up to passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which was signed into law on August 5, 2005. In that debate, TAPS was one of the lead advocates for inclusion of the Native Load/Service Obligation provision designed to protect existing transmission rights of all load serving entities, whether transmission owners or transmission-dependent utilities, and to facilitate the planning and expansion of the grid to meet their needs and enable them to obtain long term transmission rights for long term power supply arrangements.
TAPS also was a leader in the broad coalition of public and private utilities, large customers, independent transmission companies and others that successfully opposed language that would mandate “participant funding” of transmission upgrades. Other provisions of EPAct 2005 on which TAPS focused include transparency, enhanced merger review authority, a prohibition against market manipulation, and (as discussed in the Reliability page below) mandatory reliability standards.
TAPS’ legislative successes come from hard work, member grassroots advocacy and coalition building. Over the years, TAPS members have testified before numerous House and Senate Committees in legislative and oversight hearings. TAPS meets regularly with leaders in Congress and their staff. TAPS also meets regularly with FERC Commissioners and staff, and with officials at the Department of Energy and other relevant federal agencies.
TAPS currently engages in legislative debates over proposed changes in rules governing capacity markets, and in transmission planning, siting and cost allocation policies, as well as in proposed changes to regulatory policies governing electric grid security. TAPS retains an interest in legislative policy proposals that impact the jurisdictional boundaries between state and federal regulators over electric energy policy and changes to regional transmission organizations policy. The TAPS Legislative Committee governs positions on legislative policy proposals and new policy positions are approved by the full TAPS membership at biannual meetings, as necessary.