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

  • Fitting FERC hydropower into state net metering? It doesn't always fit. May the holder of a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission exemption for a hydropower project revise its authorized installed capacity by altering its headgate, in order to qualify for a state net metering program that could boost the project's financial viability? In at least one recent case, the Commission said no, despite recognizing "the difficult financial obstacles often faced by small hydropower operators". Instead, the Commission suggested that the project sponsor ask the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission for state-law relief.... More
  • FERC proposes policy on state-set carbon pricing in organized wholesale electricity markets U.S. electric utility regulators have proposed adopting a policy statement asserting jurisdiction over organized wholesale electric market rules that incorporate a state-determined carbon price in those markets. As proposed, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's draft policy statement would also encourage operators of regional electricity markets to "explore and consider the benefits of establishing such rules." As the Commission noted in its press release, "States are taking the lead in efforts to address climate change by adopting policies to reduce their... More
  • FERC Order 2222 opens wholesale markets to distributed energy resource aggregators U.S. electric utility regulators have issued an order requiring the nation's regional organized wholesale electric markets to allow participation by portfolios of solar projects and other distributed energy resources. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's Order 2222 finds that existing regional electricity market rules are unjust and unreasonable in light of barriers that they present to the participation of DER aggregations in these markets, and requires regional grid operators to revise their tariffs to accomodate distributed energy resource aggregators. While further... More
  • CFTC subcommittee report on climate risk An advisory subcommittee of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has released a report, Managing Climate Risk in the U.S. Financial System. Calling itself the first of-its-kind effort from a U.S. government entity, the report finds that "climate change poses a major risk to the stability of the U.S. financial system and to its ability to sustain the American economy" and that "U.S. financial regulators must recognize that climate change poses serious emerging risks to the U.S. financial system,... More
  • 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

Firm Highlights


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Maine Legislative Alert: Reopening and Other Updates

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Legislative Alert: Economic Recovery Grant Program Update

On Thursday, August 20, 2020, Governor Janet Mills announced the launch of the newly established Maine Economic Recovery Grant Program – a state-based approach to help support struggling Maine businesses and nonprofit organizations that...


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...


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...