Many U.S. cities and counties are looking to expand clean energy across their communities and achieve their decarbonization goals. However, these cities don’t currently have the information they need to engage on renewables in wholesale energy markets. The lack of local government voices at the wholesale market level is a missed opportunity to remove barriers to renewable energy. This paper presents three main avenues for local governments to get involved in wholesale energy market issues concerning renewable energy: through public statements, at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) level, and at the Regional Transmission Organization (RTO)/Independent System Operator (ISO) level. In many cases, working collaboratively can help local governments overcome barriers like limited capacity, expertise or funding.

Key Findings

  • This working paper provides local governments (such as cities and counties) with education on why and how they may want to engage in issues at the wholesale energy market level, and examples of how other similar stakeholders are already working in this area.
  • Organized wholesale markets in the United States enable renewable energy purchasing and integration; however, barriers to clean energy that undermine the goals of local governments can arise in market rules, interaction with state policies, or planning functions.
  • As large energy purchasers and public institutions, local governments have a stake in the structure and administration of these markets and could play a unique role in addressing these issues.
  • There are multiple potential avenues for local governments to engage at the wholesale market level, but participation has been limited due to barriers such as lack of staff capacity, high education needs, significant time commitment, and other costs.
  • Local governments have opportunities to comment publicly on issues, engage in proceedings or events at the level of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), participate in the stakeholder processes of Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs)/Independent System Operators (ISOs), communicate directly with their RTO staff, work in collaboration with others, and more.
  • By surveying how other similar stakeholders engage along these pathways, local governments can learn from those examples, understand how they fit into dialogues already underway, and identify potential partners.
  • Local governments within the territory of PJM (an abbreviation that originally stood for Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Maryland, though the group now also includes other states and parts of states) have organized into a coalition to engage with their RTO and overcome engagement barriers.

Executive Summary

Full executive summary available in the paper.