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. coal production declined again in 2019 Recently released federal data shows that U.S. coal production (mining) peaked in 2008, and has declined significantly since then. 2019 U.S. total annual coal production was 706 million short tons, a 7% reduction relative to 2018. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2019's level of domestic coal production was the lowest since 1978. Federal coal production data illustrates the recent history of this energy commodity. After modest production declines in the 1950s, total annual U.S. coal production grew steadily decade... More
  • FERC dismisses petition challenging state net metering U.S. electricity regulators have dismissed a petition that sought to invalidate state net metering programs, under which consumers can use their own generation to offset their electricity purchases. The petition had caused legal uncertainty regarding the rate treatment of solar facilities and other net metered projects by the petition, but its dismissal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission leaves state-law net metering intact.  The New England Ratepayers Association, or NERA -- a conservative advocacy group which has called "shadowy"... More
  • Maine PUC opens net metering inquiry Maine is approaching or has passed a net metering milestone, as state utility regulators have opened an inquiry triggered by a statute calling for an evaluation when the total amount of generation capacity involved in net energy billing in Maine reaches 10% of the state's transmission and distribution utilities' total maximum electric load.  In 2019, the Maine state legislature enacted a law that substantially reformed Maine's net energy billing (NEB) programs. Major changes included allowing larger projects to participate (less than... More
  • Crypto miner seeks to export US electricity for Canadian servers In what has been called "a maiden effort by an energy-hungry cryptocurrency-mining industry to import electricity from the United States to Canada to meet its significant power demands", a Canadian company has applied to the U.S. Department of Energy for authority to export power from the U.S. into Canada to power blockchain-related computer servers -- but a nonprofit advocacy group has warned that federal approval of this "first-ever application to export power by a cryptocurrency miner" may result in a... More
  • FERC cybersecurity incentives staff white paper U.S. electricity regulatory staff have issued a “white paper” report discussing a potential new framework for providing transmission incentives to utilities for cybersecurity investments, under federal law. According to the Cybersecurity Incentives Policy White Paper issued by the staff of the Federal Regulatory Commission on June 18, 2020, existing transmission incentives and Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) Reliability Standards are sufficient to maintain an adequate level of reliability – but staff suggests that additional “transmission incentives to counter the evolving and... More
  • FERC sets carbon pricing and offshore wind tech conferences U.S. federal electricity regulators have scheduled technical conferences for this autumn to discuss issues related to two major policy initiatives: carbon pricing in organized wholesale electricity markets, and offshore wind integration in regional transmission organizations and independent system operators (RTOs/ISOs). The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's scheduling of two technical conferences on these topics signals its interest in exploring the interplay between state energy and environmental policies and federally jurisdictional markets.  One technical conference regarding Carbon Pricing in Organized Wholesale Electricity Markets... More
  • Maine EV utility make ready pilot tariff filed Central Maine Power Company has requested that the Maine Public Utilities Commission approve terms and conditions for a new "Electric Vehicle Charging Station Make Ready Pilot Program", as part of a utility proposal selected by the Commission for inclusion in a beneficial electrification pilot program.  In 2019, the Maine State Legislature enacted An Act To Support Electrification of Certain Technologies for the Benefit of Maine Consumers and Utility Systems and the Environment, P.L. 2019, ch. 365. The law... More
  • US consumed more renewables than coal in 2019 United States consumers used more energy from renewable sources than from coal in 2019, the first time that national renewable energy use has exceeded coal since at least 1885, according to recently released federal data. Continued significant decreases in coal consumption, combined with increases in renewable energy consumption, largely explain the phenomenon.   The U.S. Energy Information Administration tracks the domestic production and consumption of energy resources. According to EIA, wood dominated historic energy use until the mid-1800s; by the 1880s,... More
  • New England winter electricity costs decreased New England's total estimated wholesale market cost of electricity in winter 2020 was 32% lower than during the previous winter, according to the ISO New England Internal Market Monitor, largely due to lower costs for electric energy and capacity and low natural gas prices. According to a recent report, one effect was that oil-fired generators in New England were "uneconomic, on average, every day during Winter 2020."  On May 4, 2020, ISO New England’s Internal Market Monitor released its Winter... More
  • Maine comments on international dam jurisdiction The State of Maine has sponsored a study supporting its position that federal regulators can relinquish jurisdiction over a dam spanning the St. Croix River and the U.S.-Canada border, based on the argument that the Forest City Dam can be operated such that it makes only an insignificant contribution to downstream hydropower generation.  At issue is the Forest City Dam, which is part of a hydropower project licensed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as Project No. 2660. Because the dam... More
  • FERC schedules COVID impact technical conference U.S. energy regulators have scheduled a two-day virtual technical conference "to consider the ongoing, serious impacts that the emergency conditions caused by COVID-19 are having on various segments of the United States’ energy industry."  On May 20, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a Notice of Technical Conference in Docket AD20-17-000, announcing that the Commission will convene a Commissioner-led technical conference on July 8 and 9, to "serve as a public forum for the Commission and energy stakeholders to discuss... More
  • Maine sets FY2021 electric efficiency procurement cap at about $49 million Maine utility regulators have set the upper limit of possible ratepayer funding for electric efficiency resources under the state's energy efficiency procurement program, at approximately $49 million for fiscal year 2021. These amounts are in addition to other energy efficiency costs, such as for greenhouse gas emission credits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative or the costs of compliance with other Maine efficiency programs. The Public Utilities Commission's establishment of the FY 2021 electric efficiency procurement cap is one step... More
  • New England behind-the-meter solar sets record Behind-the-meter solar panels in New England recently set a new record for generating electricity earlier this month, according to the region's grid operator.  Regional transmission organization ISO New England tracks the generating resources connected to the New England electric grid. According to ISO-NE, "Solar power systems are rapidly being installed across the six states of New England and noticeably reducing the electricity drawn from the regional power system."  All solar photovoltaic projects use sunlight to generate electricity, but beyond this superficial... More
  • ISO-NE projects EV, heat pump load growth New England's annual use of electricity and peak demand will increase slightly over the next 10 years, according to the latest forecast issued by the operator of the region's electric grid. In its 2020-2029 Forecast Report of Capacity, Energy, Loads, and Transmission or CELT Report, grid operator ISO New England Inc. cites the additional energy and loads resulting from the new electrification forecast for beneficial electrification of electric vehicles (EVs) and air-source heat pumps (ASHPs) as the primary drivers of... More
  • Section 45Q carbon capture tax credits and EPA reporting Over $893 million in U.S. federal tax credits claimed for carbon capture and sequestration between 2010 and 2019 were claimed by taxpayers who failed to report sequestration activities to the Environmental Protection Agency, according to an investigation by the U.S. Treasury Department. The findings could lead to changes in how IRS administers and enforces its tax credit programs, and could also have implications for the enactment of future tax credits.  At issue is the federal tax credit under Section 45Q of... More

Firm Highlights


Legislative Alert: Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee Update

The Governor’s Economic Recovery Committee met on Friday June 26 th to hear reports from the Chairs of all six subcommittees. In the reporting on Friday the biggest monetary ask was from the Infrastructure...


Maine Legislative Alert: Lodging reservations may begin immediately for June 1st stays

Some good news was announced during today’s daily COVID-19 daily briefing regarding Maine’s lodging establishments. Commissioner Heather Johnson announced that, effective immediately, Maine lodging facilities can begin accepting future reservations for stays beginning June...


Maine Legislative Alert: Reopening and Other Updates

The Legislative Practice Group at Preti Flaherty hopes you are all staying healthy, safe, and sane. We are continuing to interface with Governor Mills, her staff, and relevant of members of her administration on...


Eighteen Preti Flaherty Attorneys Selected as Chambers USA Leaders in Their Field

Eighteen Preti Flaherty attorneys and five practice groups have been selected for inclusion in the 2020 Chambers USA Guide to America's Leading Lawyers for Business , the highly regarded directory of leading attorneys and...


Legislative Alert: Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee Meeting Report

The Maine State Legislature’s Appropriations and Financial Affairs Committee met on Friday, June 5 th to continue to discuss the impacts of COVID-19 on Maine’s economy. The agenda included childcare issues, a report from...


$480 Billion Stimulus Package Passes the U.S. Senate

On April 21, 2020, the U.S. Senate passed the ‘‘Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act”, an important new federal stimulus law in reaction to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The bill, the terms...