Highlights from the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Order in the National Grid Rate Case

Rejection of Significant EV Expansion, Concern Regarding Interconnection Issues, and a Management Audit

On September 30, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“Department”) issued its order (“Order”) in D.P.U. 18-150, National Grid’s (“National Grid” or the “Company”) rate case filed in November of 2018.  The Order offers important insight and direction on a number of pressing issues pending in the Commonwealth, including electric vehicle (“EV”) adoption, utility ownership of electric vehicle supply equipment (“EVSE”),… More

Preserve Retail Competition

Proposals to eliminate competition in retail electric supply to consumers are in the air. A consultant to the Massachusetts attorney general has just published an update to a report of last year asserting that retail competition has led to nothing but losses. The report coincides with the recent filing of lawsuits alleging that competitive suppliers are committing fraud or engaged in unfair and deceptive practices because agreed prices were higher than the cost of default service.… More

More Detail on the Massachusetts DG Interconnection Docket

On Monday, August 19, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) provided additional information on the timing, process, and scope of its investigation into DG interconnection.  The full memorandum from the Hearing Officer is here.  This procedural update follows the July 18 technical conference, which we summarized here.  A few key points from the memorandum:

  • Three additional technical conferences have been scheduled in the docket for October 3,…
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Watch – Preparing for Investors: Understanding Term Sheets and Financings

Hosted by Foley Hoag and Cleantech Open

Bringing in outside investors is an important step in the growth of most emerging companies. Understanding the differences between kinds of investments can help companies successfully navigate the fundraising process.

Most fundraising starts with a term sheet, and important deal terms are negotiated at this stage. By better understanding what term sheets should cover, companies can be better protected.

This webinar dives into common types of investment structures for early-stage companies,… More

DPU Technical Conference Addresses Issues Related to DG Interconnection Tariff and National Grid “Cluster Study”

Distributed generation (DG) projects across the Commonwealth have been stalled in the midst of the “Cluster Study” impacting National Grid’s service territory in central and western Massachusetts. National Grid describes the study’s purpose as determining the impacts on the transmission system of interconnecting over 900 MW in DG projects—mostly solar—to its distribution system. National Grid says the study will be completed by March 2020.… More

District of Massachusetts Reaffirms Broad Defense of Filed Rate Doctrine

An important legal doctrine for companies that buy and sell in regulated markets is the “filed rate” doctrine, which limits legal challenges to rates determined by regulators such as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or the Federal Communications Commission. A recent decision by the District of Massachusetts illustrates the potential breadth of the doctrine.

By way of background, two class action lawsuits filed in the District of Massachusetts alleged that Eversource and Avangrid systematically abused their influence in the natural gas transmission market in violation of federal and state antitrust laws.… More

Massachusetts DPU Opens Docket on DG Interconnection

On May 22, 2019, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) opened a new docket (D.P.U. 19-55) to investigate the interconnection of distributed generation (“DG”) in Massachusetts.  (And yes, the DPU intends to include energy storage interconnection in this docket despite defining DG as “technologies that generate electricity”.)

While complaints about costs, delays, and increased volume of interconnection applications have been growing,… More

FERC and NERC Talk Grid Resilience and Cybersecurity

On March 22, 2019, Foley Hoag hosted the New England Electricity Restructuring Roundtable, organized by Raab Associates. The roundtable featured keynote addresses by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur—who recently announced she will be stepping down later this year—and North American Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) CEO and President James Robb. Both took turns addressing the most pressing issues in energy.… More

Second 83C Offshore Wind RFP Submitted to Massachusetts DPU for Approval

The Massachusetts electric distribution companies (“Distribution Companies”), together with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources, have asked the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities to approve a second request for proposal (“RFP”) for long-term offshore wind contracts in accordance with Section 83C of the Green Communities Act (“83C”).  Pursuant to 83C, the Distribution Companies are authorized to solicit up to 1600MW of offshore wind energy generation in staggered rounds of procurements. … More

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.