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 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
  • Following the Maine legislature's enactment of a law creating a new distributed generation procurement program, state utility regulators have issued a proposed rule governing the periodic procurement of distributed renewable resources. Once finalized, the rule will define how Maine implements its new program to procure the output of 375 megawatts from at least 75 new small renewable generating projects.Earlier this year, the Maine State Legislature enacted An Act To Promote Solar Energy Projects and Distributed Generation Resources in Maine. The... More
  • Maine utility regulators have asked for proposals for pilot programs to support the beneficial electrification of the transportation sector: substituting electricity for fossil fuels in ways that provide benefits like improved grid efficiency, reduced consumer costs or emissions.While Maine's electricity generation sector is largely decarbonized (accounting for just 9 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions in 2017), transportation and heating lag significantly: Maine's transportation sector was responsible for 53 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions in... More
  • Federal electricity regulators have given New England's regional grid operator more time to develop proposed new mechanisms to enhance long-term fuel security, after states and market participants asked for an extension to allow continued stakeholder discussions. At stake are what could be significant reforms to the region's electricity markets, including new opportunities for generators to earn revenue for providing fuel security, as well as the prospect of significant new costs for consumers.ISO New England Inc. is the regional transmission organization... More
  • The independent administrator of Maine's energy efficiency programs has issued a request for information to inform a study of the barriers to beneficial electrification in the transportation and heating sectors in Maine. While the electricity sector has largely been decarbonized, transportation and heating lag significantly: Maine's transportation sector was responsible for 53 percent of the state's greenhouse gas emissions in 2017, with heating taking the next greatest share. Meanwhile, electricity generation in Maine accounted for just 9 percent... More
  • U.S. electricity regulators have asked for public comment on a staff white paper proposing to provide increased transparency and public access to information on violations of mandatory reliability standards governing cybersecurity of the bulk electric system, while protecting sensitive information whose disclosure would be a security risk. If the changes are adopted, the identity of violators would be made public, while detailed information that could be useful in planning an attack on critical infrastructure would remain protected from public disclosure.At... More
  • Investor-owned electric distribution companies served 72% of U.S. electricity customers in 2017 according to federal data, even though investor-owned utilities accounted for just 168 out of nearly 3,000 electric utilities.The U.S. Energy Information Administration categorizes electric utilities into three groups based on their ownership type: investor-owned utilities, publicly owned utilities, and cooperatives. Stock in investor-owned utilities is owned by shareholders; publicly owned utilities include those run by federal, state and municipal entities; cooperatives are not-for-profit utilities owned by their customer-members.Of... More
  • New York state energy agencies have complained to federal regulators that the New York electric grid operator's market rules are interfering with the state's policies supporting the increased deployment of energy storage resources.In a complaint filed on July 29, 2019 with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the New York State Public Service Commission and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority assert that the development of energy storage resources in New York is necessary for legitimate state purposes, such... More
  • Maine utility regulators have amended rules governing net energy billing for electricity customers, in the wake of recently enacted laws requiring the rules to be restored to how they read prior to changes adopted in 2017 that cut the value of net metering for customers with solar panels or other distributed generation. The Maine Public Utilities Commission's July 31, 2019 order amending its Chapter 313 net energy billing rules describes the amendments as intended to make the rules "substantively equivalent... More
  • As society looks to use less petroleum for heating, heat pumps represent an alternative that can use electricity to provide space heating and cooling. U.S. efficiency standards for heat pumps are set to tighten in 2023 -- but in many cases, the heat pumps sold today already meet those future standards.Heat pumps can provide heat while avoiding direct combustion and carbon emissions, and can be powered by electricity from renewable resources. Heat pumps can also be cost-effective and efficient. According... More
  • The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has reorganized its structure to create a new Division of LNG Facility Review & Inspection (DLNG), to accommodate the growing number and complexity of applications to site, build and operate liquefied natural gas export terminals.The Commission is responsible for authorizing the siting and construction of onshore and near-shore LNG import or export facilities under Section 3 of the Natural Gas Act. The first exports from the Lower 48 came in February... More
  • Federal data shows an increase in the number of U.S. electric utility rate cases filed in 2018, to the largest number since 1983. Of the 89 utilities filing rate cases in 2018, 10 proposed to decrease rates, one proposed a rate freeze until next year, and the remaining 78 utilities proposed to increase their rates.Under typical state law, public electric utility companies must obtain regulatory approvals before changing the rates they charge their customers. According to the U.S. Energy Information... More
  • Maine utility regulators have approved a long-term contract to purchase the output of a 72.6-megawatt wind power project under development by Weaver Wind, LLC in Hancock County, Maine. The 20-year contract bears a price of 3.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, escalating at 2.5 percent per year.A Maine statute enacted in 2006 authorizes the Public Utilities Commission to direct investor-owned transmission and distribution utilities to enter into long-term contracts, to the degree necessary to ensure reliability, meet energy efficiency program requirements, or... More