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

  • U.S. energy regulators have issued a final rule governing the procedures through which the Secretary of Energy may issue an emergency order under the Federal Power Act to respond to an electric grid security emergency.Under the Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act of 2015, Congress authorized the Secretary of Energy to order emergency measures after the President declares a grid security emergency. Such an emergency could occur as the result of a physical attack, a cyber-attack using electronic communication,... More
  • When a federally licensed hydropower project is decommissioned, U.S. regulators have authority to accept or prescribe plans for the disposition of the project's dams, reservoirs, and other facilities -- and depending on the case, decommissioning plans could range from removing facilities and restoring the site, to leaving some facilities in place.Under federal law, most U.S. hydropower projects are licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission – and a license cannot be surrendered without the Commission’s agreement. By regulation, a licensee... More
  • Setting up a significant expansion of New Hampshire's energy efficiency programming, utility regulators have approved the implementation of a $176 million three-year energy efficiency plan for 2018 through 2020 for the state’s gas and electric utilities.In 2016, the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission established an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard or EERS, a framework within which the Commission’s energy efficiency programs would be implemented effective January 1, 2018. A group of gas and electric utilities filed a proposed a three-year... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have terminated a fast-tracked proceeding opened last fall to consider rules proposed by the Department of Energy that would have compensated certain electric generating plants for reliability and resilience values; instead, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has opened a broader case to examine the resilience of the bulk power system.On September 29, 2017, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry directed the Commission to consider a proposed rulemaking to ensure that "traditional baseload resources, such as coal and ... More
  • A privately owned dam and reservoir spanning the U.S.-Canada border licensed as a hydropower development would continue to require licensing even if owned by a Maine state agency, according to federal regulators -- a ruling which could cast doubt on whether the state will acquire the facilities as has been conditionally authorized.The Forest City Project on the East Branch of the St. Croix River currently operates under a license issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to Woodland Pulp LLC... More
  • The Trump administration is taking steps that could ultimately lead to a significant expansion of U.S. outer continental shelf acreage available for oil and gas leasing.Under federal law, the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management is charged with administering site leasing for energy development on the outer continental shelf. The Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act requires the Secretary of the Interior, through BOEM, to develop a five-year national plan for oil and gas sales in federal waters. The law... More
  • Vermont utility regulators are reviewing the effectiveness of a program which awards contracts to renewable energy providers for the sale of power to Vermont’s electric distribution utilities. The Vermont Public Utility Commission says its review of the state's standard-offer program could lead to changes to how it selects projects.Vermont law establishes a standard-offer program for reasons including providing “support and incentives to locate renewable energy plants of small and moderate size in a manner that is distributed across the State’s... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have signaled potential changes to a decades-old policy on the certification and pricing of new interstate natural gas pipelines.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is charged by the Natural Gas Act with regulating the transmission and sale of natural gas for resale in interstate commerce, and approving the siting and abandonment of interstate natural gas pipelines and storage facilities.In 1999, the Commission issued a Statement of Policy "to provide the industry with guidance as to how the Commission... More
  • New England's electricity grid is ready for reliable operations this winter, says the region's grid operator -- but special operating procedures might be required in the case of unexpected outages or fuel delivery constraints.According to ISO New England Inc., the independent, not-for-profit regional transmission organization responsible for almost all of New England, supplies of electricity should be sufficient to meet regional consumer demand this winter. The grid operator projects a peak demand of 21,197 megawatts under normal winter temperatures (about... More
  • The U.S. has issued a final permit allowing Eni US Operating Co. to drill for oil and gas in Arctic waters. The November 28 approval by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement of Eni's application for a drilling permit represents the first approval of U.S. Outer Continental Shelf oil exploration in the Arctic in over 2 years.Eni U.S. Operating Co. Inc. had applied for the permit earlier this year, and federal regulators gave it... More
  • Federal regulators of U.S. energy markets and infrastructure described an increase in litigation activities in the most recent fiscal year. According to the eleventh annual Report on Enforcement issued by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Enforcement, the office has five cases pending in various federal district courts.The Commission is responsible for enforcing various laws and regulations affecting energy markets and infrastructure. On November 16, 2017, staff from its Office of Enforcement presented to the Commission on the... More
  • The Trump administration has released an updated assessment of the science of climate change, concluding "based on extensive evidence, that it is extremely likely that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse gases, are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century."The report by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, 2017: Climate Science Special Report: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume I, represents the first of two volumes of ... More
  • As Maine recovers from widespread power outages following a storm, what will the event mean for how its public utilities design, operate, and maintain their electric grids?On October 30, 2017, a storm brought winds and heavy rain to much of New England. In Maine, about 500,000 people lost power, with the state's largest utility Central Maine Power Company reporting the largest number of outages in the company's history and Emera Maine reporting the most widespread outages since 1998.The utilities had... More
  • Canadian energy regulators predict Canadians will likely use less fossil fuels in the future, with the baseline case suggesting Canadian fossil fuel use will peak around 2019.Canada's National Energy Board is an independent federal regulator whose mandate is to promote safety and security, environmental protection and economic efficiency in the Canadian public interest, in the regulation of pipelines, energy development and trade. The Board prepares periodic long-term energy outlooks, which it describes as "the only publically available,... More
  • The operator of New England's electric grid has issued an updated power system plan, presenting the grid operator's view of power system needs for the next 10 years and how these needs can be addressed. ISO New England, Inc.'s 2017 Regional System Plan portrays the region's energy system as "in the midst of a major evolution toward a cleaner, hybrid grid," including both traditional resources such as natural-gas-fired generation and renewable technologies such as wind and solar,... More