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

  • New England's electricity system is shifting toward a "hybrid grid," according to the operator of New England's wholesale electricity markets and electric transmission system. A recent report by ISO New England, Inc. describes the electric sector's transition towards generating resources with lower carbon emissions and the resulting implications for the environment and the economy.ISO New England is the federally-designated regional transmission organization serving New England. The grid operator recently released its 2019 Regional Energy Outlook, a document described as “one... More
  • In the wake of a January 2019 court ruling holding that the states and applicants for water quality certifications cannot indefinitely stall federal time limits for state action by repeatedly withdrawing and resubmitting their applications, federal energy regulators are being asked to rule that states have waived their rights to issue water quality certifications.On January 25, 2019, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an opinion in Hoopa Valley Tribe v. Federal Energy Regulatory... More
  • The Maine state legislature has voted to advance a bill that would amend the state's statute governing the net metering of small distributed renewable energy projects. If enacted into law, the amendment would reverse regulatory changes imposed in 2017 that reduced the value of net energy billing to participating customers.Maine has allowed customers with distributed renewable energy generation to use the power they produce to offset their electricity bill since the 1980s. In 2017, the Maine Public Utilities Commission amended... More
  • The New Mexico state legislature has passed a bill that requires public utilities other than rural electric cooperatives and municipalities to supply all retail sales of electricity in New Mexico with zero carbon resources by 2045.The bill is SB 489, also known as the Energy Transition Act. Much of the Energy Transition Act focuses on procedures allowing utilities to obtain approval to abandon generating facilities which obtaining financing orders from the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission allowing the utilities to... More
  • As Congress considers “Green New Deal” resolutions sponsored by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Senator Ed Markey, some state legislators are proposing their own Green New Deal concepts. Newly-released legislation under consideration by the Maine State Legislature would establish a "Green New Deal for Maine". Here's a look at the bill known as LD 1282, An Act To Establish a Green New Deal for Maine.LD 1282 includes four main parts:Part A amends the law establishing Maine's renewable portfolio standard, to require... More
  • Activist shareholders are increasingly using the shareholder resolution process to pressure corporations to take various steps in pursuit of goals related to climate change. A rule of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission allows companies to exclude certain proposals that seek to “micromanage” a company’s “ordinary business” operations. But as recent SEC action shows, there can be a fine line between reasonable proposals and micromanagement. Staff at the U.S. securities regulator have issued a pair of "no-action letters" telling two... More
  • Federal hydropower regulators have scheduled a workshop to explore potential opportunities for development of closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites, as required by the America's Water Infrastructure Act of 2018.Enacted by Congress and signed by President Trump in October 2018, the Act amends several portions of the Federal Power Act which govern how the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issues preliminary permits, hydropower licenses, and approvals for qualifying conduit hydropower facilities. Among other requirements, the Act... More
  • Electromagnetic pulse and geomagnetic disturbance events "pose a serious threat to the electric grid and its supporting infrastructures that serve our Nation," according to testimony delivered by a federal official to the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.Electromagnetic pulse (EMP) and geomagnetic disturbance (GMD) events are two types of events that could affect the nation's electric grid. Generally speaking, GMD events are naturally occurring solar magnetic disturbances which periodically disrupt the earth’s magnetic field. These disruptions can... More
  • California electric utility Pacific Gas and Electric Company has withdrawn its expression of intent to seek a new license for the Potter Valley Hydroelectric Project, saying its relicensing would be contrary to the interests of its electric ratepayers. The withdrawal has prompted federal hydropower regulators to institute an "orphan project" process to find interest from other entities in seeking a license for the project. If no other entity seeks and obtains a new license for the project, PG&E would be... More
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the United States Department of Energy have scheduled a joint technical conference to discuss current cyber and physical security practices used to protect energy infrastructure and possible federal and state incentives for related security investments. According to a notice issued on February 4, the Security Investments for Energy Infrastructure Technical Conference will be led by one or more FERC Commissioners and DOE senior officials. Its agenda addresses two high-level topics: types of current and... More
  • Almost a year after issuing an order reforming the procedures and agreements governing how large electric generators interconnect to the utility grid, federal regulators have issued a follow-up order clarifying those reforms.Under U.S. law, most requests by electric power generators larger than 20 megawatts to interconnect to the grid are regulated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The standards and procedures governing those interconnection requests have changed over time. In 2003, the Commission issued standard procedures and a standard agreement... More
  • U.S. electric reliability organization NERC has filed a Notice of Penalty with federal utility regulators, describing a settlement agreement through which unnamed companies have agreed to pay a $10 million penalty after NERC determined the companies committed 127 violations of cybersecurity and other Critical Infrastructure Protection reliability standards.On January 25, 2019, NERC filed a Notice of Penalty with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The Commission docketed the proceeding as Docket No. NP19-4. The public version of the filing was heavily... More
  • Two electric utilities serving customers in West Virginia have announced a new discounted "incentive rate" to attract new businesses and grow existing businesses.Appalachian Power Company and Wheeling Power Company announced on February 14, 2019, that they are are offering discounted rates for electric service to new or expanding businesses meeting defined standards. The discount reduces qualifying customers' incremental billing demand by 40% for a 5-year term. The utilities are offering this new rate to new or existing customers who... More
  • Maine Governor Janet Mills has signed an Executive Order terminating a moratorium imposed by the previous governor on state permitting of wind energy projects.On January 24, 2018, then-Governor Paul LePage issued an Executive Order prohibiting state agencies from issuing permits related to wind turbines proposed for siting in Western Maine, the Maine coast, and certain avian migratory pathways. Governor LePage's executive order established the Maine Wind Energy Advisory Commission. He charged the Commission with studying and reporting on the economic... More
  • The municipal utility serving the town that hosts the headquarters for the operator of the regional electric grid has informed its customers that the utility “is unable to accommodate new natural gas service requests due to the lack of natural gas availability in the region.” Holyoke Gas & Electric adds, “Recent proposals that would increase natural gas capacity in the region have been met with opposition, and the current pipeline constraints are causing significant adverse environmental and economic impacts on... More