Dakota Access Must Shut Down. Is It a Harbinger?

I don’t like to speculate, so I won’t say that July 6, 2020, was the beginning of the end of fossil fuel infrastructure in the United States.  I will say, with apologies to Judith Viorst, that it was a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. 

First came the news that even a recent Supreme Court win wasn’t enough to save the Atlantic Coast pipeline. … More

Perhaps, Some Day, There Will Be a Carbon Tax

There are few people left, at least in my orbit, who don’t share the goal of prompt decarbonization of the economy.  The quaintly named $64,000 question ($64 trillion question?) is how we get from here to there.

Today, the New England Power Generators Association released a report prepared by Analysis Group that explains how an economy-wide price on carbon can help New England do just that. … More

Massachusetts AG Petitions DPU to Investigate Gas Industry Future in Light of Commonwealth’s GHG Emissions Goals

On June 4, 2020, the Massachusetts Office of the Attorney General (AGO) filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) requesting that the DPU open an investigation “to assess the future of local gas distribution company (LDC) operations and planning in light of the Commonwealth’s legally binding statewide limit of net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050.” Citing Massachusetts’ Global Warming Solutions Act, and the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’ Determination of Statewide Emissions Limit for 2020,… More

FERC Authorizes Deferred Implementation of Seven NERC Reliability Standards

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) recently issued an Order approving a request by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) to defer the implementation of several Reliability Standards scheduled to take effect later this year. This action, along with others discussed in an earlier post here, are the latest measures approved by FERC that demonstrate the Commission’s intent to exercise discretion in easing reliability compliance burdens in light of the national emergency related to the coronavirus pandemic.… More

New SMART Program Regulations Double Size of SMART Program to 3,200 MW, Impose Storage Requirement and Make Community Solar and Other Changes

by Adam Wade and Ethan Severance

On April 14, 2020, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) filed emergency regulations for the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (“SMART”) Program. A redline showing the additions to 225 CMR 20 is available here: MA DOER 225 CMR 20 Emergency Regulations 4.15.20. As emergency regulations, these changes went into effect Wednesday, April 16, 2020. DOER plans to hold a virtual public hearing on the new regulations on May 22,… More

FERC Announces Actions to Ease Compliance Burdens on Regulated Entities

On April 2, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) Chairman Neil Chatterjee announced additional steps the Commission is taking as regulated entities struggle to balance ensuring continued operations on one hand and regulatory compliance burdens on the other during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to Chatterjee, while “the Commission will continue its market surveillance efforts to protect market participants and consumers from the effects of anti­competitive behavior,” the Commission will exercise prosecutorial discretion in addressing events that arise during the pandemic and “will not second-guess the good faith actions that regulated entities take in the face of this emergency.”

With respect to enforcement actions related to operations occurring during the pandemic period,… More

What the Energy Sector Needs to Know about the CARES Act

Overview

On March 27, 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”), the third and by far the largest stimulus package passed by Congress to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. As discussed in our main alert, the $2 trillion CARES Act amounts to what will be the biggest economic stimulus package in American history.

A number of specific provisions in the Act are aimed at energy infrastructure,… More

Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Identifies Essential Critical Energy Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response

On March 19, 2020, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) issued its Memorandum on Identification of Essential Critical Infrastructure Workers During COVID-19 Response (“Memo”).  The Memo identifies workers who conduct “a range of operations and services that are essential to continued critical infrastructure viability” and who support a wide-spectrum of industries such as medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, and energy.

As provided by the Homeland Security Act of 2002,… More

It’s the Energy Markets, Stupid (And Energy Markets Are Complex)

This week, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office released a white paper documenting the results of a symposium convened last fall to discuss how electric markets should be organized to manage the transition to a “low / no-carbon future.”  Policy wonks, such as myself, will find it fascinating reading, though it is moderately dense stuff.

Seriously, it is important to acknowledge that these issues are as complex as they are important.  Simply establishing a zero carbon goal for 2050 – or earlier – isn’t going to get us there and keep the lights on at the same time.  And the more we commit to electrifying our transportation systems and our buildings, the more important electric market design is going to be.

These issues really are too complicated to summarize in a blog post, so I’ll settle for highlighting what was apparently broad agreement on a number of key points:

  • “A real-time energy market, providing price signals identifying the instantaneous value of energy, should be a cornerstone of any decarbonized end state wholesale market design.”
  • “There was nearly unanimous support for some form of regional carbon pricing that is priced to help create incentives for compliance with the region’s clean energy goals.” (And that’s economy-wide carbon pricing.)
  • The current Forward Capacity Market “is unsuited to the needs of ensuring resource adequacy in the decarbonized end state.”
  • The region, i.e., ISO-NE, should implement more effective scarcity pricing.

There’s much more in here, and a lot more to do before real consensus is reached on specific approaches.  However, if you believe we need to decarbonize our economy, I suggest you get this report and read it.  Why?

Because it’s the energy markets, stupid!

Maine Public Utilities Commission Request for Proposals for the Sale of Energy or Renewable Energy Credits from Qualifying Renewable Resources (Tranche 1)

On February 14, 2020, the State of Maine Public Utilities Commission (the Commission), acting pursuant to the Act To Reform Maine’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, P.L. 2019, Chapter 477 (the Act), issued a Request for Proposal (the RFP) in order to procure an amount of energy or Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from Class 1A Resources of at least 7%, but not more than 10%, of retail electricity sales in the State of Maine during calendar year 2018.  … More