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.

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