Energy Policy Act of 2005, P.L. 109-58: Electricity Provisions

Publication Date: January 2006

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Energy



The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58), signed by President Bush on August 8, 2005, was the first omnibus energy legislation enacted in more than a decade. Major provisions include tax incentives for domestic energy production and energy efficiency, a mandate to double the nation's use of biofuels, faster procedures for energy production on federal lands, and authorization of numerous federal energy research and development programs. This report describes the electricity provisions. It will not be updated.

Title XII authorizes the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to certify a national electric reliability organization (ERO) to enforce mandatory reliability standards for the bulk power system. All ERO standards must be approved by FERC. The ERO can impose penalties on a user, owner, or operator of the bulk power system for violations of any FERC-approved reliability standard.

The Secretary of Energy is required to conduct a study of electric transmission congestion every three years and may designate a geographic area as being congested. Under certain conditions, FERC is authorized to issue construction permits in congested areas. Permit holders may petition in U.S. District Court to acquire rightsof-way through eminent domain. An applicant for federal authorization to site transmission facilities on federal lands could request that the Department of Energy be the lead agency to coordinate environmental review and other federal authorization. If a federal agency has denied an authorization required by a transmission or distribution facility, the denial could be appealed by the applicant or relevant state to the President.

Section 210 of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) had required utilities to purchase power from all qualifying facilities and small power producers at a rate based on the utilities' avoided cost. The Energy Policy Act repeals the PURPA mandatory purchase requirement for new contracts if FERC finds that a competitive electricity market exists and a qualifying facility has adequate access to wholesale markets.

Also repealed is the Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 (PUHCA), which restricted the structure of holding companies of investor-owned utilities and provided for Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) regulation of mergers and diversification proposals. FERC and state regulatory bodies must be given access to utility books and records.

FERC is directed to facilitate price transparency in wholesale electric markets, relying on existing price publishers and providers of trade processing services to the maximum extent possible. However, FERC may establish an electronic information system if it determines that existing price information is not adequate. FERC is given approval authority over the acquisition of securities and the merger, sale, lease, or disposition of facilities under FERC's jurisdiction with a value in excess of $10 million.