Would the Last Generator to Leave the Wholesale Competitive Energy Market Please Turn Off the Lights?

On Friday, Connecticut announced that it had reached agreement with Dominion, Eversource, and United Illuminating to keep the Millstone nuclear plant operating for 10 more years.  Not coincidentally, on the same day, the six New England Governors announced their “Commitment to Regional Cooperation on Energy Issues.”  An important element of that commitment is to work with ISO New England:

to evaluate market-based mechanisms that value the contribution that existing nuclear generation resources make to regional energy security and winter reliability.

Another important element is to:

work together on a mechanism or mechanisms to value the important attributes of [clean energy] resources, while ensuring consumers in any one state do not fund the public policy requirements mandated by another state’s laws.

Good luck with all that.  I support maintaining nuclear generation.  I support clean energy procurements, such as those mandated by the Massachusetts legislature known as 83C and 83D.  However, we’ve got to recognize the impact that these procurements are increasingly having on the competitive wholesale market.  We need to remember that electricity restructuring was a huge success, resulting in lower prices and reduced GHG emissions.

If we continue to rely on out-of-market procurements to attain various attributes that policy makers in different states value, nothing will remain of the competitive wholesale market.

Will the last competitive generator please turn out the lights?  After all, that’s just good demand management.

Governor Baker Shows Support for Offshore Wind Industry

Governor Baker addressed a room full of offshore wind stakeholders at “The Future of Offshore Wind” Forum hosted by the Environmental League of Massachusetts on Wednesday morning.  He applauded the developers, environmental groups, legislators and local students for the progress made in recent years which has led to a dramatic decrease in the price of offshore wind energy to ratepayers in recent years.

Thanks to a bill Governor Baker signed into law in 2016,… More

Sunrun’s Capacity Supply Obligation in ISO-NE Forward Capacity Auction Signals the Beginning of a New Era for the New England Grid

Our client, Sunrun, the nation’s leading home solar, battery storage and energy services company, won an historic bid to deliver home solar and batteries as a capacity resource in ISO-NE’s recent Forward Capacity Auction (“FCA”), for the capacity commitment period June 1, 2022- May 31, 2023.  Sunrun’s participation in New England’s capacity market is the first time in the country that home solar and battery storage has directly participated alongside traditional generation resources in a wholesale capacity auction.… More

Debate over Cybersecurity Oversight for Gas Pipeline and Bulk Power Systems Continues

Earlier this month, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) Chairman Neil Chaterjee testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on issues related to cybersecurity in the energy industry.

In his testimony, Chaterjee seemed to soften at least his messaging, if not his position, calling for increased mandatory oversight of cybersecurity for gas pipelines.  In a joint letter written last June,… More

Is Competitive Supply Working for Residential Customers in Massachusetts?

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) wants to know.  The DPU recently opened docket D.P.U. 19-07  to investigate whether improvements can be made to the retail electric competitive supply market in Massachusetts.  In opening the docket, the DPU posed over 20 detailed questions to stakeholders on which it is seeking comments by February 19, 2019.

Whether competitive supply markets are working for residential customers in Massachusetts is not a new question. … More

EFSB Asks for Comments on Energy Storage

On February 7, 2019, the Energy Facilities Siting Board (“EFSB”) issued a notice and request for comments in EFSB 19-01, the docket we previously noted, in which the petitioner seeks a determination that its energy storage system is not within the EFSB’s jurisdiction.

Comments are due by February 20, 2019.

The EFSB identified five topics on which it is “particularly interested in receiving information:”… More

Massachusetts DPU Issues Decisions on Energy Storage and Capacity Rights

On February 1, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued two long-awaited orders in docket D.P.U. 17-146. The orders address a number of issues related to pairing energy storage systems (“ESS”) with net metering facilities and the rights to the capacity associated with net metering and SMART facilities. There are too many issues in these orders to address each fully here, but below are some high-level highlights.… More

Is an Energy Storage System a Generating Facility?

As more energy storage projects are developed in Massachusetts, laws and policies may need to catch up. Energy storage can provide many benefits and play many roles, but it does not always fit neatly into familiar categories, which are sometimes embedded in the background legal landscape. A recent petition at the Massachusetts Energy Facilities Siting Board (“EFSB”) brings this issue to the fore.

The EFSB has jurisdiction over transmission lines,… More

Cybersecurity 2019 — The Year in Preview: Security Threats to the Energy Grid

While 2018 has been a year of unprecedented and escalating cyber-related threats generally, such has certainly been the case with respect to attacks on the nation’s domestic energy facilities. For example, a media report from earlier this year describes hackers’ successful infiltration of the control rooms of multiple electric utilities.  According to the article, and many others like it, attacks by both independent and state-sponsored hackers pose an on-going and constant threat to the security of the nation’s bulk power system. … More

Massachusetts Comprehensive Energy Plan — There’s a Lot to Do.

Last week, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources released its Comprehensive Energy Plan. It’s a generally solid piece of work, even if it doesn’t say anything hugely surprising. Its various policy recommendations can be summarized fairly easily: electrify and conserve.

The first recommendation is nicely illustrated by this pie chart from the CEP.  In 2016, only 17% of Massachusetts’ energy demand of 1,074 trillion BTUs was from the electric sector.… More