DOE Releases Draft Environmental Impact Statement for Northern Pass Project

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently released a Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for Northern Pass Transmission, LLC’s proposed 187-mile transmission line across the United States-Canada border in New Hampshire.

If approved, the line would have the ability to deliver 1200 MW of hydroelectric power from Quebec into southern New England—a potentially tantalizing amount of power for policymakers seeking to diversify the region’s generation portfolio and lower its GHG emissions. At the same time, it may have unintended consequences such as causing existing zero-emission nuclear facilities to retire prematurely as market-clearing prices in the… More

Massachusetts’ Summer of Storage

HiResCalifornia has been a national leader in promoting policies to support the deployment of energy storage resources.  The California Public Utility Commission’s directive that California utilities procure 1,325 MW of energy storage through biennial procurements has spurred significant excitement and economic activity as have capacity procurements that required a portion of need to be met with energy storage.  (The California Roadmap, prepared by the California Independent System Operator, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California Energy Commission in December, provides an outline of both California’s efforts to date and… More

The Baker Administration looks to Hydropower to meet GHG goals

Massachusetts State Capitol, Boston

The Baker Administration announced on July 9 that it filed a bill for sourcing long-term hydroelectric power in the Commonwealth.  Hydroelectric power currently provides a small portion of electricity consumed  in Massachusetts. According to the Energy Information Administration, it ranks behind natural-gas, nuclear, coal and other renewable energy sources.

The bill, titled “An Act Relative to energy sector compliance with the Global Warming Solutions Act,” would require the State’s electric distribution companies  to solicit proposals for hydroelectric contracts spanning 15 to 25 years.  Such solicitations… More

The Third Installment of Our Paris Climate Change Negotiations Tracker

The third installment of our Paris climate change negotiations tracker is available.  This may sound like a broken record, but there was not a lot of progress made in the Bonn talks earlier this month and it’s looking more and more as though it’s going to be difficult to reach a major substantive agreement in Paris.

 

 

 

Massachusetts Attorney General to Undertake Natural Gas Study

Massachusetts Attorney General Healey announced that her office will lead a study to identify and evaluate options to address regional electric reliability needs in New England through 2030. As the Massachusetts ratepayer advocate, the AG’s Office has traditionally challenged the efforts of Massachusetts utilities to raise electric and gas rates before the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The announcement that her office will conduct a study that focuses on regional energy needs once again signals her interest to consider the effects of climate change as part of her role as ratepayer advocate and that her office intends to play a significant role in the region’s energy policy debates.

The study will be completed in October 2015, will be conducted by the Analysis Group and is being supported by the Barr Foundation. Raab Associates will be responsible for facilitating an Advisory Group that will advise the AGO and the Analysis Group on the study. While the study will include an evaluation of all potentially available energy resource options to meet reliability needs, a key focus of the study will be the question of whether more natural gas is needed in the region, and if so, how much more capacity is needed.

The announcement of the study comes at the same time that the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) has opened an investigation to consider whether electric utilities subsidized by ratepayers should be allowed to purchase natural gas capacity in order to encourage additional natural gas pipelines in the region. The investigation was requested by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources. Through its filings, the AG’s Office has questioned where the DPU has the authority to approve electric utility purchase of natural gas capacity and whether there is a need for additional natural gas pipelines in the region. The AG’s Office requested that the DPU postpone issuance of a decision in the investigation until after the study is completed.

The Second Installment of our Paris Climate Change Negotiations Tracker

As the date for the Paris climate talks moves closer, we have our second installment of our climate negotiations tracker.  This episode discusses the concept of “dynamism” – being able to adjust over time just how ambitious the mitigation goals will be; the mechanism for assessing the Nationally Determined Contributions, or NDCs; the role of non-state actors; and how to differentiate among developed and developing countries.

There’s still a lot to do if Paris is going to be a success.

IRS States (Again) That Wind PTC Safe Harbor Does Not Apply to Solar ITC Transactions

In a memorandum released on June 12th, the IRS confirms that the safe harbor for Section 45 wind energy production tax credit (PTC) transactions set forth in Revenue Procedure 2007-65 does not apply to partners or partnerships with Section 48 energy credits, such as partnership flip transactions involving the solar investment tax credit (ITC).

This IRS memorandum, Chief Counsel Advice (CCA) 201524024, has generated a flurry of interest in the solar community.  Overall, the CCA is of interest largely because it is a new statement by the IRS reaffirming what Revenue… More

Staying Up To Date on the Run-Up to the Paris Climate Negotiations

As we approach the start of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change Conference of the Parties 21, slated to open in Paris on November 30, 2015, Foley Hoag begins a series of documents tracking the negotiations.  The first installment discusses the range of Intended National Determined Contributions of four players in the talks:  the United States, the EU, Russia, and Mexico.  They provide a fairly wide range of positions, both on the extent of promised GHG reductions and on whether those commitments are conditional or unconditional.

May you live in interesting times.

Mississippi Moves Forward with Net Metering Based on Independent Economic Study

Recently, the Mississippi iStock_000007078510_MediumPublic Service Commission (PSC) unanimously voted to move forward in developing a net metering policy. This decision comes (somewhat) on the heels of an independent study commissioned by the state’s PSC concluding that distributed solar would provide levelized net benefits to the state over a period of twenty-five years. Adding to a growing body of work finding untapped value in distributed solar, the study is particularly noteworthy because Mississippi is one of only a few… More

Independent Study Commissioned by Maine PUC Values Distributed Solar at $0.337 per kWh

solarThe latest volley in the ongoing debate over the economic value of solar policies comes from Maine, where the state’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) released an independent study finding that the net value of distributed solar is $0.337 per kWh when levelized over the course of twenty-five years. That is significantly more than the state currently offers as offset credit to customers engaged in photovoltaic net metering. The study relied on market data from ISO New England as well as economic estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)… More