Category Archives: Energy Policy

SMART Moves to a New Forum: Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to Consider a SMART Tariff

Stakeholders have been following the development of “SMART” as a successor to the SREC program in Massachusetts for more than a year.  (See our previous posts on the development process here, here, and here.)  As it stands, SMART reflects a determined effort by the Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) to craft a program that balances multiple interests and sets a sustainable path for solar development in Massachusetts. … More

The Drumbeat Continues: Another Court Rejects an FEIR For Not Properly Considering Climate Change

Last week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed and remanded a District Court decision approving a decision by the Bureau of Land Management to approve new leases on mines that account for 20% of U.S. coal production. The decision is just the latest in a series of cases making clear that courts will not approve new – or renewed – energy production that does not appropriately address the impacts of a project on climate change.… More

Ballot Initiative Petitions Include Four Clean Energy Proposals

Initiative petition proponents filed with the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office earlier this week 28 proposed initiative petitions that, if certified by the AG and endorsed by the requisite number of registered voters, could appear on the November 2018 ballot.  (See this post for more details on the ballot initiative process.)  Interested parties have until Friday, August 11 to (1) submit memoranda setting forth why the AG should or should not certify the measure,… More

Leaked DOE Grid Report Not What Trump Administration Wants to Hear – So Will They Change It?

In April, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry ordered the Department of Energy (DOE) to perform a 60-day review and produce a report regarding the reliability of the energy grid and potential concerns regarding early retirement of baseload generators. Perry’s request explicitly solicited information concerning “[t]he extent to which continued regulatory burdens, as well as mandates and tax and subsidy policies, are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.” Perry has argued that government subsidies for intermittent generators such as solar and wind and onerous environmental regulations lead to premature retirements of coal and nuclear power plants,… More

State Programs to Encourage Zero-Emitting Generation Are Constitutional

Late last month, the 2nd Circuit Court of appeals rejected a challenge to Connecticut laws intended to encourage use of renewable energy.  Earlier this month, Judge Manish Shah, of the Northern District of Illinois, issued a companion decision, rejecting challenges to the Illinois Future Energy Jobs Act, which grants “Zero Emission Credits” to certain facilities, “likely to be two nuclear power plants owned by Exelon in Illinois.”

(Caveat:  This firm represents,… More

DOER Energy Storage Target Misses the Mark

On June 30, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) announced an “aspirational” target for Massachusetts’ utilities to procure 200 MWh of energy storage by January 1, 2020.  While solar targets are typically expressed in MW, the capabilities of energy storage facilities are often measured both in terms of power (MW) and energy (MWh), reflecting the multiple applications for which energy storage can be used.  … More

Emerging Trends Series: Offshore Wind

Presented by Foley Hoag LLP and NECEC

After decades of speculation about offshore wind’s future in the United States, the industry that has long powered grids in Europe has finally arrived in the Northeast. In the last year America’s first offshore wind project–off the coast of Rhode Island–started spinning and delivering power to the grid, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law a bill authorizing the procurement of 1,600 megawatts of offshore wind,… More

Climate Change Will Increase Peak Energy Demand By More Than We Thought: More Storage, Perhaps?

In an interesting study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the authors predict that climate change will have a more significant impact on peak energy demand than had previously been understood.  They conclude that, in a business as usual case, peak demand will increase 18%, leading to a need to spend $180B (in current dollars) to meet that increased peak demand.… More

Massachusetts DOER to Propose Successor to SREC II Program

In a letter circulated on January 24, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) announced it will present a final proposed design of a new solar incentive program at a meeting on January 31, 2017.

DOER has worked with stakeholders over the last several months to develop a successor program to the Solar Carve Out II Program (SREC II). Final details are not yet available,… More

Cybersecurity 2017 – The Year in Preview: Energy and Security

By Christopher Cifrono

In 2015, a sophisticated cyberattack hit six of Ukraine’s energy providers simultaneously, causing a blackout for hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians.  The U.S. has thus far evaded similar attacks, but the energy sector remains of vital strategic importance.  Because it has long been considered a prime target for cyber threats, from cybercriminals and foreign states alike, regulators, especially at the federal level,… More

MA Appellate Tax Board Again Finds Virtually Net Metered Solar Facility Exempted from Property Taxation

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts’ Appellate Tax Board (the “Board”) has again ruled that a ‘virtual’ net-metered solar PV project is exempted from property taxation under clause “forty-fifth” of Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59, Section 5. This time, the board promulgated its Findings of Fact and Report in KTT, LLC v. Board of Assessors of The Town of Swansea.

Beyond Forrestall

The Findings represent yet another major change in the application of the Commonwealth’s property tax exemption for off-site,… More

Transportation CO2 Surpasses Power Sector CO2: Good News or Bad?

co2-sources-since-1973Last week, DOE announced that transportation sector CO2 emissions in the US exceeded power sector CO2 emissions for the first time since 1978. Why?  The combination of increasing vehicle miles traveled in the transportation sector and the decreasing use of coal in the power sector is certainly most of the answer.

The real question is whether this is good news or bad news.… More

DOER’s Solar Incentive Straw Proposal: Optimism, Anxiety, Uncertainty.

beautiful sunrise and cloudy sky

On September 23, DOER presented a straw proposal for the next phase of Massachusetts solar incentives. DOER’s ambitious proposal for a tariff-based program reflects a thoughtful development process and a laudable goal of crafting a program that is more efficient at promoting sustained solar deployment. There is plenty to like. But, DOER has bitten off quite a mouthful by proposing a structure that departs so dramatically from the SREC approach.  … More

RGGI Is a Success Story. When Will It Be Obsolete?

When RGGI rggilogo2was first implemented, I heard Ian Bowles, then Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs in Massachusetts, say more than once that the purpose of RGGI wasn’t really to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or jump start the clean energy economy.  Instead, the goal was much more modest; it was simply to demonstrate that a trading regime could work.  The RGGI states were to serve as a model,… More

Governor Baker’s Executive Order on Change: Good News; Still Work To Be Done By MassDEP

tide-surgeLast Friday, Governor Baker issued Executive Order 569, “Establishing an Integrated Climate Change Strategy for the Commonwealth.” EO 569 will advance climate policy in Massachusetts in a number of important ways.  It also leaves much to be accomplished by MassDEP.  Here are the highlights:

  • EOEEA and MassDOT are instructed to work with other New England and Northeastern states to develop regional policies to reduce GHG emissions from the transportation sector.…
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DOER and MassCEC Release Report on Energy Storage

battery

The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (“MassCEC”) released their long-awaited report on energy storage, “State of Charge” (the “Storage Study”) on Friday.  The Storage Study is a central component of the Commonwealth’s “Energy Storage Initiative” and is likely to serve as the basis for future policy initiatives.  It recommends a suite of policies designed to promote the development of 600 MW of advanced energy storage (i.e.… More

DOE and DOI Release the New National Offshore Wind Strategy: Perhaps Prosperity Is Finally Just Around the Corner

offshore-windLast Friday, DOE and DOI issued an update of their National Offshore Wind Strategy. It’s a moderately aggressive strategy, seeking to deploy at least 86 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2050.  The report highlights both the significant opportunities and potential for growth and also some of the remaining potential roadblocks.

On the plus side:

  • The combination of fossil retirements and demand growth provide significant incentive for offshore wind development.…
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Event: Energy Storage Forum

Join us on September 20, 2016 for the Energy Storage Forum, presented by NECEC and Foley Hoag

Energy Storage Forum

This event will take place in two locations with a live video stream connecting panelists and guests in Boston and New York. More

BOSTON
NEW YORK

Foley Hoag
155 Seaport Boulevard – 13th Floor
Boston, MA 02210-2600
Foley Hoag
1540 Broadway – 8th Floor
New York,…

Massachusetts Legislature Enacts Significant Energy Bill in Support of Offshore Wind and Hydro Procurement, Storage and Transmission

windmill-181286_960_720559474_45240941

Late last night, the Massachusetts legislature enacted House Bill 4568, an act to promote energy diversity (the “Act”). Overall, the Act marks a compromise between the House’s original procurement-only legislation and the Senate’s more comprehensive “omnibus” bill. It is expected Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker will sign the legislation shortly. After that, regulations will be required to be implemented and other regulatory actions will need to be taken by Massachusetts’ Department of Public Utilities,… More

MA DPU Sets September 26, 2016 as Net Metering “Notification Date” Setting the Stage for Transition to a Market Net Metering Credit

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (the “Department“) today issued its Order Announcing Notification Date in its proceeding under 16-64, setting September 26, 2016 at 2PM as the “Notification Date” related to the transition to market net metering credits for private net metering projects.

The Order, 16-64-D, is available here: 16-64-D Order Announcing Notification Date 7 29 16.

The Department determined in its order that “aligning the timing for transition to the new regime of net metering credits with DOER’s SREC II program is the best option to result in a smooth transition to a stable and equitable solar net metering market.” With this Order,… More

Emergency Extension Promulgated; Factors Reduced

On April 8, 2016 the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) filed emergency changes to 225 CMR 14.00 with the Secretary of the Commonwealth in an effort to bridge the gap between the expiration of the current solar incentive program and the expected publication of a new solar incentive program. Subsequent to a public hearing and comment period, DOER made several responsive modifications, and finalized the regulations which the Secretary of the Commonwealth officially promulgated as of July 1,… More

Massachusetts Energy Bill Emerges from Senate Committee on Ways and Means

windmill-640x426Last Friday, the Senate Committee on Ways and Means released its version of the energy bill that passed the House earlier this month. Whereas the House bill would require distribution companies to procure 1,200 MW of offshore wind power by 2027 and 9,450,000 MWH of hydroelectric power by 2022, the Senate’s version would require 2,000 MW of offshore wind by 2030 and 12,450,000 MWH of “clean energy generation” by 2018.… More

Minnesota May Not Prohibit Power Sales That Would Increase Statewide CO2 Emissions. Why Not? Pick Your Reason.

elec_mag_field-300x159If you needed any further proof that energy law is very complicated, Wednesday’s decision in North Dakota v. Heydinger should convince you.  The judgment is simple – the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals struck down a Minnesota statute which provides in part that:

no person shall . . . (2) import or commit to import from outside the state power from a new large energy facility that would contribute to statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions;… More

Draft Released of Highly Anticipated Massachusetts Energy Bill

windmill-181286_960_720This week a draft of the long-awaited Massachusetts energy bill was reported out of the Joint Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities and Energy. The bill would require the Commonwealth’s distribution companies to competitively solicit long-term, fifteen- to twenty-year contracts for large-scale offshore wind and hydroelectric power. Notably absent from the bill are provisions addressing resources such as solar, onshore wind, nuclear, energy storage, and energy efficiency.

The bill seeks to jumpstart the development of offshore wind in federal lease areas by directing distribution companies to enter into contracts for 1,200 MW of offshore wind power before July 1,… More

Another Solar Emergency!? Will the Commonwealth’s Transition to a “Market Net Metering Credit” for Private Solar Projects be “Stable and Equitable” After All?

Solar PanelsThe Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities’ (“DPU”) recent emergency order (the “Order”) issued May 11 in its Docket 16-64 made some immediate changes to the Commonwealth’s net metering law enacted by the Act Relative to Solar Energy (the “Act), which, according to its own preamble, was itself was an “emergency law, necessary for the public convenience” adopted, in part,… More

FERC Signals Interest in Expanding Market Policies to Support Energy Storage

Last week, the Federal Energy storageRegulatory Commission (FERC) initiated a proceeding regarding the applicability of wholesale electricity market rules to energy storage resources. At this point, FERC is only gathering information. The agency requested data from Independent System Operators (ISOs) and Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs) on “whether barriers exist to the participation of electric storage resources in the capacity, energy, and ancillary service markets in the RTOs and ISOs potentially leading to unjust and unreasonable wholesale rates.” FERC simultaneously requested public comment on these issues.… More

Coming Soon To A Roof Near You: Solar Panels (At Least If You Live in SF)

This week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors enacted an ordinance that will require that the developers of all new buildings of 10 floors or less that apply for building permits after January 1, 2017 install solar PV or solar thermal systems.  I’m not an expert in the California Code of Regulations, so I’m not familiar with all of the potential exemptions, but the only one stated in the new ordinance is for buildings (residential or non-residential) with a “solar zone” of less than 150 contiguous square feet.… More

Massachusetts Passes Stopgap Net Metering Legislation

On April 11, Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker signed into law compromise legislation modestly raising the cap on the state’s net metering program. Net metering allows customers to generate solar power to offset electricity costs and provide surplus power to the grid.

The program was previously limited to 4 percent of peak electricity demand for private projects and 5 percent for public projects. These limits were reached in National Grid’s service territory last March,… More

Massachusetts DPU Moves Forward with Grid Modernization

On Tuesday, after months of waiting, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU) took action on the Grid Modernization Plans filed last summer by the three Massachusetts Electric Distribution Companies (EDCs), Eversource Energy, National Grid, and Unitil, calling for all interested parties to intervene in the proceedings by March 30, 2016.

The EDCs’ Grid Modernization Plans propose concrete steps to modernize the electric grid,… More

Maryland Clears Path for Community Solar

Reflecting the nation’s growing interest in community solar, on May 15, 2015, Maryland passed a law directing the state’s Public Services Commission (PSC) to establish a three-year pilot program for community solar projects, which provide the means for electricity customers to benefit from off-site or group-owned solar panels through “virtual” net metering.

The Maryland law imposes a two-MW limit on the capacity of individual community solar systems and requires that they be located in the same electric service territory as its subscribers,… More

Supreme Court Revives FERC Order No. 745; FERC Maintains its Role in a Distributed Energy World

The Supreme Court handed down a decision on Monday in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association affirming FERC’s Order No. 745.  Order No. 745 generally requires market operators to pay the locational marginal price (LMP) for demand response (offers to voluntarily curtail electricity use)—the same price paid to generators for producing electricity.  (Seth Jaffe previously posted on the decision.)  The Supreme Court’s decision reverses a May 2014 decision from the D.C.… More

Massachusetts Updates Its Climate Song: I Can Get By With A Little Help From My (Canadian) Friends

Earlier this week, Massachusetts released its updated Massachusetts Clean Energy and Climate Plan for 2020.  The headline for the press release was “Massachusetts on Track to Meet 25% Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target for 2020”.  The slightly more nuanced version is that we can do it, but only with a large dose of Canadian hydropower.

While that’s the main take-away, it really is a useful report,… More

Massachusetts AG Releases Study Finding No Need for New Gas Pipelines

Last month the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office released a study concluding that no new gas pipelines are needed for electric reliability in New England, as the region is expected to meet its energy needs through 2030.

The study arrives amid a debate regarding the role of gas pipelines in New England’s energy future. Recently, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities ruled that it had the authority to allow distribution companies to pass along the costs of firm pipeline capacity to ratepayers.… More

San Diego Gas & Electric Company Proposes Paying Customers to Install Customer-Owned Energy Storage Resources

Changes Ahead , Road Warning Sign , 3d renderOne key challenge to tapping the full potential of energy storage systems to improve the function of the electric grid is the absence of obvious paths for the owner of storage resources to realize the revenue opportunities associated with all of the various services that such a resource could provide.  Energy storage resources can frequently provide multiple services – often crossing lines between categories of traditional resources that are compensated under different regulatory schemes. … More

Massachusetts DPU Extends Time for Electric Distribution Companies to File Grid Modernization Plans

Readers expecting the Massachusetts electric distribution companies to file their Grid Modernization Plans yesterday will have to wait another two weeks.  On Tuesday, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities granted a last minute extension, making the GMP filings due on August 19th.  In their request for the extension, the electric distribution companies noted that the “requirement to develop comprehensive, forward-looking GMPs was the first of its kind” and that the GMPs “encompass sophisticated and complex technological investment portfolios,… More

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.… 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, … 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. … More