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Energy Policy Update Blog

Energy powers society; society's choices shape energy policy. This blog is about our energy resources and the choices they present for society.

Recent Blog Posts

  • The holder of the U.S. federal hydropower license for a dam spanning the international border with Canada border has petitioned for approval to surrender that license, citing economic considerations.At issue is the Forest City Project, located on the East Branch of the St. Croix River which forms the international boundary between the United States and Canada.  The Project operates under conditions set by the International Joint Commission (IJC) in accordance with the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, as... More
  • This week a committee of the Maine state legislature is scheduled to hold a public hearing on a bill that would direct state regulators to enter into long-term contracts to procure 120 megawatts of large-scale community solar distributed generation resources by 2022.  While Maine law currently allows some community-scale solar development, LD 1444, An Act Regarding Large-scale Community Solar Procurement, would create new structures geared toward state-sponsored long-term contracts and could open the door to broader ownership of or participation... More
  • Maine energy regulators have released a report on the state's electricity renewable portfolio standard, presenting data from 2015.  The Maine Public Utilities Commission's Annual Report on New Renewable Resource Portfolio Requirement - Report for 2015 Activity [PDF] provides a look at Maine's renewables law, now in its tenth year on the books.  It may also inform legislative discussions later this spring about the future of Maine's renewable portfolio standard.In 2007, the Maine legislature enacted a law requiring that specified percentages... More
  • World’s largest brewer Anheuser-Busch InBev SA – parent to brands including Budweiser, Corona, Rolling Rock, Michelob, and Stella Artois – has committed to sourcing its electricity entirely from renewable sources by 2025.  The move would make AB InBev the largest corporate direct purchaser of renewable electricity in the global consumer goods sector.AB InBev makes 30% of the world’s beer, operating breweries in 50 countries. Collectively, these facilities consume 6 terawatt-hours of electricity a year, of... More
  • U.S. President Donald Trump has signed an executive order affecting domestic energy policy.  His March 28, 2017 Presidential Executive Order on Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth includes a variety of directives, generally aimed at reducing federal regulations affecting domestic energy production.  Here's a look at his Executive Order targeting Obama-administration climate regulations and other agency actions that potentially burden the development or use of domestically produced energy resources.The Executive Order includes 8 operative sections.  One provides policy statements; six... More
  • Massachusetts utility regulators have opened an inquiry to review the current standards and procedures by which distributed generation projects seek exceptions to the net metering rules and regulations that generally require each facility to be sited on a single parcel of land.  The case could lead to changes in the Department of Public Utilities' Single Parcel Rule and Subdivision Rule.On March 15, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued an order opening an inquiry relating to the... More
  • A task force examining the deployment of emerging technologies across the North American electric grid has identified three imperatives necessary to ensure the continued reliability and efficiency of the bulk electricity system, relating to: renewable supply and integration; greater situational awareness; and controlling an increasingly distributed energy system, with increased deployment of distributed energy resources.The 39-page report, “Emerging Technologies: How ISOs and RTOs can create a more nimble, robust electricity system,” was published on March 16, 2017,... More
  • On January 31, 2017, the Maine Public Utilities Commission adopted revisions to its rule chapter 313, governing net energy billing.  Net metering, or net energy billing, is the metering and billing mechanism that Maine and most other states have adopted to promote the development of solar photovoltaic and other distributed renewable energy facilities.  While the Commission first adopted a net energy billing rule in the early 1980s, its 2017 revisions to that rule reduce the benefits of net metering for... More
  • Yesterday the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management completed a competitive lease sale for renewable wind energy development in federal waters offshore North Carolina.  Avangrid Renewables, LLC won the auction-based sale with a high bid of $9,066,650.  As a result, it has the right to lease 122,045 areas of ocean space in the designated Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area.The Kitty Hawk Wind Energy Area sits 24 nautical miles from shore, off the northeast coast of North Carolina by the Virginia... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have scheduled a two-day technical conference to consider how state energy policies affect wholesale electricity markets.In a March 3 notice of technical conference, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission gave public notice that it will hold a technical conference on May 1 and 2, 2017.  The notice describes tensions between competitive wholesale energy and capacity markets and state policies.  On the one hand, the Commission noted, "Competitive wholesale energy and capacity markets bring value to customers by... More
  • A California dam in the midst of a federal relicensing process has experienced flooding and storm-related damage, prompting the evacuation of over 180,000 people.  Evacuation orders and a reservoir drawdown represent the most rapid responses to the Oroville Dam incident -- but future discussions of engineering, dam safety, and public policy are likely to continue after the emergency has been resolved.Oroville Dam is the tallest dam in the U.S.:  a 770-foot high earthfill embankment dam on the Feather River in... More
  • What happens when a storm damages utility transmission towers?  Some consumers in the Teton Village area near Jackson, Wyoming, are facing multi-day power outages as local utility Lower Valley Energy scrambles to restore power safely.Lower Valley Energy is a cooperative serving about 29,000 electricity customers in wesstern Wyoming and southeast Idaho, including the Jackson area.  Its 2015 financial statements describe about $126 million in net utility plant, and operating revenues of about $52 million. The Teton County outage started on the... More
  • Following the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission's adoption last summer of an energy efficiency resource standard, a regulatory board has scheduled a series of workshops to allow public input on how utilities serving the state plan to met the standard over the next three years.On August 2, 2016, the Commission issued its Order No. 25,932, approving a settlement agreement establishing an energy efficiency resource standard or EERS.  The Commission described the EERS ... More
  • The 128th Maine Legislature's first session kicked off last month in Augusta.  Over 2,000 legislative requests or proposed bills were submitted for the 2017 session, most of which will eventually be "printed" or released to the public as bills or "Legislative Documents."  Energy items on this session's docket are expected to include a variety of bills addressing solar energy.  While most of these bills have yet to be printed, energy-related bills that have been printed so far include items related... More
  • The National Park Service has proposed a solar-powered microgrid to replace a power line in a remote area of Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  If developed, the Mt. Sterling Sustainable Energy Project could serve as an example of microgrids as cost-effective alternatives to transmission or distribution lines.Solar panels on a campground facility inside Arches National Park, Utah.Great Smoky Mountains National Park is located in a rugged area of North Carolina and Tennessee.  Today, NPS radio equipment located at the Mt.... More