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 Maine Public Utilities Commission has adopted an updated rule governing the state's electric renewable portfolio standards, following the enactment of a law that significantly expanded the renewable mandate.During its 2019 session, the Maine State Legislature enacted a variety of laws designed to address climate change and promote renewable resources. These laws included a significant expansion of Maine's renewable portfolio standards, which generally require retail electricity suppliers to demonstrate that defined portions of the power they sell came from renewable... More
  • Following up on President Trump's 2017 statement that the United States would withdraw from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, this week the U.S. began the formal process of withdrawal from the international climate accord.On December 12, 2015, the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change adopted Decision 1/CP.21, adopting the Paris Agreement under that convention. The Paris Agreement requires all signatory nations "to undertake and communicate ambitious efforts" as "nationally determined contributions to the... More
  • Nearly two years after opening a proceeding to evaluate the resilience of the nation's bulk power system in organized wholesale markets, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's evaluation of resiliency matters remains pending.In 2017, U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry directed the Commission to consider a proposed rulemaking to ensure that "traditional baseload resources, such as coal and nuclear" are rewarded for their reliability and resilience attributes. As proposed, the rule would have required grid operators to set rates... More
  • Following a 2018 Massachusetts natural gas incident resulting from the overpressurization of gas distribution lines owned by utility Bay State Gas Company d/b/a Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, state utility regulators have opened a pair of investigations into the utility's responsibility for and response to the incident, as well as into its efforts to prepare for and restore service following the event.As summarized by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities, on September 13, 2018, Bay State’s low-pressure natural gas distribution system... More
  • Implementing a 2018 federal law designed to facilitate the development of new facilities capable of storing electric energy, U.S. regulators have issued guidance to assist applicants for licenses or preliminary permits for closed-loop pumped storage projects at abandoned mine sites. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission also issued a list of existing non-powered federal dams that the Commission and other agencies agree have the greatest potential for non-federal hydropower development.A pumped storage facility can consume electricity to pump water... More
  • The United States Department of the Interior has published a policy statement clarifying that the Interior Department -- and not OSHA -- will will act as the principal federal agency for the regulation and enforcement of safety and health requirements for renewable energy facilities located in ocean waters on the Outer Continental Shelf or OCS. In an October 17 press release, the Department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management described the policy statement as "a major milestone in... More
  • U.S. utility regulators have approved the first two regional implementations of a landmark 2018 order designed to remove barriers to the participation of electricity storage in wholesale markets.In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued its Order No. 841, requiring each organized power market to revise its tariff to establish a "participation model" for electric storage resources in the capacity, energy and ancillary service markets. The rule requires each market's participation model to include market rules that... More
  • Most of the cyber security protection processes and procedures adopted by entities subject to U.S. electric grid reliability regulation meet those reliability standards' mandatory requirements when audited, according to a recent federal report -- but recent audits also found "potential compliance infractions", as well as voluntary cybersecurity practices that could improve security.During the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's 2019 fiscal year, its staff conducted a series of non-public audits of a number of "registered entities" subject to the North American Electric... More
  • Acting under a 2018 law, Massachusetts energy regulators have proposed a Clean Peak Energy Portfolio Standard regulation that is designed to provide incentives to clean energy technologies that can supply electricity or reduce demand during seasonal peak demand periods.Last year, the Massachusetts legislature enacted An Act to Advance Clean Energy. The law requires the state Department of Energy Resources to develop a program requiring retail electricity providers to provide a minimum percentage of kilowatt-hour sales to end-use customers... More
  • U.S. regulators have allowed an electric utility serving customers in North Carolina and South Carolina to recover half of the wholesale portion of the costs of a canceled nuclear power plant through wholesale formula rates contained in 14 power purchase agreements with wholesale customers.At issue is Duke Energy Carolinas, LLC, a vertically integrated utility with generation, transmission, and distribution facilities used to serve its retail customers. DEC also provides long-term requirements service to a number of electrical cooperatives and municipal... More
  • Maine shall strive to achieve a carbon neutral economy no later than 2045, according to an executive order recently signed by Governor Janet Mills.On September 23, 2019, Governor Mills signed her Executive Order 10: An Order to Strengthen Maine’s Economy and Achieve Carbon Neutrality By 2045. The order notes the negative impacts of climate change on Maine, as well as related educational and economic opportunities in clean energy development, energy efficiency, innovation and carbon sequestration through... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have granted a petition for a declaratory order, ruling that a recently enacted New Hampshire statute mandating a purchase price for wholesale sales by certain biomass generators in the state is preempted by federal law. The ruling casts doubt on state programs that seek to support renewable or other resources by specifying the price for wholesale sales of electric energy in interstate commerce.At issue is the 2018 enactment of New Hampshire Senate Bill 365, which... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have proposed revised regulations implementing a 40-year-old law that was designed to encourage domestic cogeneration and renewable energy production. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's notice of proposed rulemaking regarding its implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 could significantly reshape the Commission's approach to this law.PURPA was enacted by Congress in 1978 to promote goals including energy conservation and greater production of domestic and renewable energy.  It established a new class of generating facilities... More
  • The electric reliability organization for the U.S. has issued a white paper describing lessons learned from what has been described as the first publicly disclosed disruptive cyberattack on the U.S. power grid. The incident -- and the report -- shed light on cybersecurity vulnerabilities and how companies can protect themselves from risk.A September 2019 report by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation describes an incident on March 5, 2019 in which a cyberattack resulted in brief communications outages between the... More
  • U.S. energy regulators have scheduled a public workshop to discuss grid-enhancing technologies that increase the capacity, efficiency, or reliability of transmission facilities.The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has regulatory authority over various aspects of the U.S. electric power sector, including the rates and services for electric transmission in interstate commerce and electric wholesale power sales in interstate commerce.On September 9, 2019, Commission staff issued a Notice of Workshop in a newly opened proceeding, announcing the scheduling of a staff-led workshop for... More