Massachusetts Releases Its 2050 Decarbonization Roadmap — It’s Going to Be Quite a Trip

Yesterday, Massachusetts released its “2050 Decarbonization Roadmap.”  I’m tempted to call it a tour de force.  At the very least, it’s jam-packed with important issues.  One of the most valuable aspects of the Roadmap is its discussion of the potential tradeoffs among the different paths towards a decarbonized economy.  Acknowledging that the Roadmap contains much more good stuff than can be summarized in a single post,… More

The Transportation Climate Initiative Gets Off the Ground: Kinda, Sorta, A Little

Today, three of the states participating in the Transportation Climate Initiative – Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island – and the District of Columbia released a Memorandum of Understanding describing a “cap and invest” program intended to reduce carbon emissions from fossil fuels and raise money “to accelerate the transition to an equitable, safe, and affordable low-carbon transportation sector.” Here are the big takeaways:

  • The four participating states are eight short of full participation among the TCI states. …
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Ransomware: The Latest Threat to the Nation’s Energy Supply

The Growing Threat of Ransomware

According to media reports, ransomware attacks against the manufacturing industry have more than tripled compared with last year. This dramatic rise in cyberattacks poses serious concerns about the vulnerability of critical energy infrastructure serving the nation’s electric grid and the government has responded with measures designed to thwart any such efforts.

In the manufacturing sector, a ransomware attack typically involves blocking access to a victim’s computer files.… More

Massachusetts State Auditor Issues Report Concerning The Impact of Solar Taxation Policies on Municipalities

On December 10, 2020, the Massachusetts Office of the State Auditor Division of Local Mandates (“DLM”) issued The Impact of State-Owned Land PILOT and Solar Taxation Policies on Municipalities report.  DLM Report

In part, this report focuses on the taxation of solar power installations and the use of solar PILOT agreements between solar developers and municipalities.  The report made key findings and recommendations related to Solar Facility PILOT Agreements

DLM Findings

  1. The Appellate Tax Boards’ (“ATB”) interpretation of the solar property exemption has created confusion among municipal governments.…
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Deadline Approaching for Comments on Proposal to Reform Distribution System Planning and Allocation of Interconnection Costs

When the Massachusetts DPU opened docket DPU 20-75, I described it as a proposal to fundamentally change system planning and cost allocation in Massachusetts.  The interconnection process in Massachusetts has been a perpetual wellspring of challenges for installing distributed energy resources – challenges that have grown in scope and complexity in recent years.  Opportunities to rework the basic structure of that process do not come around every day. … More

Mandating Standard ESG Risk Disclosures – Is The Tide Turning At The SEC?

Over the past decade, there has been an unprecedented shift in investor focus toward the analysis use of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) risks and impacts in investment decision-making.  While the Securities & Exchange Commission has acknowledged this shift, it has to date resisted calls for the adoption of standards governing issuers’ disclosure of ESG risks.

Outgoing SEC Commissioner Jay Clayton has repeatedly offered his view that the SEC already requires companies to disclose material risks,… More

Department of Public Utilities Proposes Rethink for Distribution System Planning and Interconnection Costs

On October 22, the Massachusetts DPU issued an Order opening a new docket (DPU 20-75) that seeks comments on a proposal to shake up the way the electric distribution system is planned and paid for in Massachusetts.  As I see it, the core idea is to move from being reactive—upgrading the system piecemeal when individual distributed resources seek to interconnect—to being proactive—planning prospectively for the integration of the distributed generation resources we know are coming.… More

ConocoPhillips Has An Ambition Is to Be Net-Zero by 2050-ish — It’s a Start

Last week, ConocoPhillips announced a goal of reducing its emissions to net-zero by 2045-2055.  It’s a significant step and so it is important to note both what is in the plan and what is not.

First, what is in the plan?

  • ConocoPhillips has set a 2030 target of reducing Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions by 35%-45%
  • It has an “ambition” to be net-zero by 2045-2055
  • It has signed on to a World Bank initiative to eliminate routine flaring by 2030
  • It will implement continuous methane emissions detection
  • It addresses emissions from the use of its products by supporting the Carbon Leadership Council – which presumably means supporting the CLC proposal for a “Carbon Dividends Plan”

All of these are good steps. … More

Department of Homeland Security Releases Homeland Threat Assessment

On October 6, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (“DHS”) released a 2020 Homeland Threat Assessment (“HTA”).  According to Acting Secretary Chad F. Wolf, the “first of its kind report” identifies the primary threats facing the nation and analyzes the vast array of information coming from all DHS operational components that crosses his desk on a daily basis.  “When the American people read this HTA they will be more aware of the traditional threats facing the Homeland like terrorism and organized crime.  … More

Foley Hoag Attorneys Christina Hioureas and Alejandra Torres Camprubi to Participate in Dialogue Focused on Self-Determination and Sea-Level Rise

Foley Hoag LLP counsel and United Nations practice group Chair Christina Hioureas and associate Alejandra Torres Camprubi will serve as panelists for a series titled “Climate, State and Sovereignty: Self-Determination and Sea-Level Rise,” to be held in consecutive months from September – December 2020.  The series, sponsored by the Liechtenstein Mission to the United Nations and the Liechtenstein Institute on Self-Determination (LISD) at Princeton University, will bring together academics and experts representing the States most affected by the rising sea levels to discuss the situation as it stands,… More