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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

  • Massachusetts utility regulators have approved a proposed timetable and method for soliciting a second round of long-term contracts for offshore wind energy generation.Section 83C of the Green Communities Act requires Massachusetts electric distribution companies to jointly propose a timetable and method for the solicitation and execution of long-term contracts, subject to review and approval by the Department of Public Utilities. As it has been amended, Section 83C calls for multiple procurement rounds, to result in cost effective ... More
  • Carbon dioxide emissions from New England's electric power generators continued to decline in 2017, according to a recent report from the region's grid operator.According to ISO New England Inc., regional emissions of sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and carbon dioxide all declined in 2017 compared to the previous year, due largely to a decline in the use of fossil fuels to generate electricity. For carbon dioxide, the report shows that the New England system emitted 34,969 short kilotons in 2017, a... More
  • On May 16, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order generally affirming an earlier order which established reforms to remove barriers to the participation of electric storage resources in certain organized wholesale markets. The Commission's Order No. 841-A denied various requests for rehearing of last year's Order No. 841.In 2018's Order No. 841, the Commission found that existing rules for electricity markets operated by regional transmission organizations and independent system operators were unjust and unreasonable in light of... More
  • Ending a decade-long practice of issuing Notices of Alleged Violations in early stages of enforcement investigations, this week the Federal Energy Regulatory rescinded its 2009 Order Authorizing Secretary to Issue Staff’s Preliminary Notice of Violations.Historically, the Commission generally did not issue any public notice of its investigations or targets until an investigation was either resolved through settlement or escalated through a Commission order to show cause. In 2009, the Commission adopted a policy of issuing Notices of Alleged Violations at... More
  • Last month federal regulators issued an order that could facilitate the development of small-scale distributed solar projects. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's April 18, 2019 order granting certain waivers to residential solar developer Sunrun, Inc. could open the door to reduced administrative burdens for developers of clustered residential-scale solar projects.Under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA), certain electrical generators can be certified as "qualifying facilities" or QFs if they meet defined standards. QFs can avail themselves... More
  • Federal energy regulators have approved a settlement between a Virginia electric utility and regulatory enforcement staff over allegations of market manipulation. The settlement requires Virginia Electric and Power Company (doing business as Dominion Energy Virginia) to pay a civil penalty of $7 million to the U.S. Treasury, and to disgorge an additional $7 million to  regional transmission organization PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.At issue is an order issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approving a stipulation and consent agreement between the... More
  • U.S. hydropower regulators have issued a license for a pumped storage project to be developed in Oregon. As licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Swan Lake North Pumped Storage Hydroelectric Project would be located near Klamath Falls, and could produce 393.3 megawatts of power for up to 9 hours at a time.Pumped storage projects cycle water between two reservoirs at different elevations, generally using equipment that can both pump water uphill for storage in the upper reservoir and... More
  • The Maine legislature is considering a bill that would create a public power authority to acquire and operate most of the state's electric transmission and distribution systems. Sponsored by state Representative Seth Berry (who co-chairs the legislature's energy committee), with co-sponsors including Senate President Troy Jackson and Republican Senator David Woodsome, LD 1646 bears the title, "An Act To Restore Local Ownership and Control of Maine's Power Delivery Systems."The bill would create the Maine Power Delivery Authority "to provide for... More
  • New York has announced the availability of $280 million in incentive funding to support the state's energy storage goals, as part of a larger $400 million package of support for energy storage.Energy storage -- in batteries or through other technologies -- can improve the efficiency of the electric grid. Depending on its siting and configuration, storage can avoid the need for wires upgrades, or improve the ability of wind and solar energy sources to meet periods of peak... More
  • Maine Governor Janet Mills has introduced proposed legislation to create a Maine Climate Change Council. While the bill had not been formally printed by the legislature's Office of the Revisor of Statutes as of May 1, the Governor's office posted a copy of the bill captioned, LR2478, An Act to Create the Maine Climate Council to Assist Maine to Mitigate, Prepare for and Adapt to Climate Change.The draft bill includes a variety of provisions designed to advance clean energy goals:It... More
  • Federal energy regulators have denied a complaint by a Newport, Rhode Island city councilor against state regulators' approval of a power purchase agreement for an offshore wind project off Block Island.At issue is Deepwater Wind Block Island, LLC's small-scale 30-megawatt offshore wind project located near Rhode Island's Block Island. The project sells its output to utility Narragansett Electric Company, Inc. d/b/a National Grid (National Grid), pursuant to a power purchase agreement approved by the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission on... More
  • Maine has reduced its total annual emission of greenhouse gases in recent years, thanks largely to the substantial decarbonization of the state's electricity supply -- but transportation and heating remain the largest contributors to Maine's overall carbon dioxide emissions.According to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, total estimated annual greenhouse gas emissions in Maine increased from 21.65 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalents (MMTCO2e) in 1990 to a peak of 26.97 MMTCO2e in 2002, and then declined to 18.21... More
  • U.S. hydropower regulators have issued a new license to a Wisconsin municipality to continue operating and maintaining its hydroelectric generation project.The City of Kaukauna, Wisconsin is located on the Lower Fox River. In 1939, the Federal Power Commission awarded the City an original license for the Kaukauna Hydroelectric Project. That license was replaced after its 1989 expiration with a new license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. As licensed, the project consists of facilities including a dam and... More
  • An organization representing the interests of the six New England states on electricity matters has issued its 2018 annual report, highlighting increasing tension between the region's wholesale competitive markets and a growing number of "out of market" mechanisms adopted to satisfy emerging state and regional needs. Through the report, the New England States Committee on Electricity (NESCOE) calls for regional discussion of possible market reforms to integrate state policies while protecting consumers from increased costs.NESCOE is a not-for-profit entity... More
  • Regional transmission organization ISO New England Inc. has released a "discussion paper" on the region's energy security, presenting "the ISO’s current perspective on underlying problems, root causes, and longer-term market solutions."The 77-page paper notes that the region's electric power system "is undergoing a major transition" as nuclear, coal, and oil-fired power plants are retiring and being replaced by newer, more efficient natural-gas fired generation and renewable technologies like solar and wind. It expresses the ISO's concern that these replacement resources... More