Category: Governmental Affairs

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2018 Election Guide: A Guide to Changes in Congress – Available Now
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UPDATED: Comprehensive Energy Policy Legislation A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 8 & S. 2012
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Comprehensive Energy Policy Legislation: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 8 & S. 2012
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Public Meetings on the Clean Energy Fund II: Next Up: Spokane, WA on December 17
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Greater Sage-Grouse Avoids ESA Listing
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EPA releases final version of Clean Power Plan
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Oregon Enacts Energy Storage Legislation
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Oregon Considers Energy Storage Legislation
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Regulatory implications of new products and services in the Australian electricity market
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Australian Government Announces First Emissions Reduction Fund Auction

2018 Election Guide: A Guide to Changes in Congress – Available Now

The tumultuous 2018 midterm election, characterized by many as the most consequential in a generation, ended as predicted: the Democrats took control of the House while the Republicans increased their hold in the Senate.

Indeed, it was a tale of two Houses. As of 10:00 a.m. ET on November 7, the Democrats have picked up 28 seats in the House of Representatives, with the prospects of gaining about seven more as the remaining close races are decided, mostly in the west. In the Senate, Democratic Senators in Missouri, Indiana, and North Dakota were defeated while a Republican lost in Nevada, resulting in a net gain of two Senate seats thus far for Republicans with three races too close to call.

To help you assess yesterday’s election, K&L Gates has prepared a comprehensive guide that summarizes the results and their impact on the 116th Congress, which will convene in January. The Election Guide lists all new members elected to Congress, updates the congressional delegations for each state, and provides a starting point for analyzing the coming changes to the House and Senate committees.

Please click here to download the most up-to-date version of the 148-page Election Guide, which will be updated on an ongoing basis as more of the close races are called and committees are finalized.

For additional information regarding the effects of the recent elections, please contact Tim Peckinpaugh or any member of the Public Policy and Law practice.

To view the complete guide online, click here.

UPDATED: Comprehensive Energy Policy Legislation A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 8 & S. 2012

By Tim Peckinpaugh and Kathleen Nicholas

Linked below is our updated side-by-side comparison of the House and Senate energy bills, which are moving to conference to reconcile differences in the hope of producing a final bill.  The principal difference from our earlier side-by-side comparison is the inclusion of several natural resource and energy R&D provisions added to the House bill late last month in order to prepare the bill for conference and permit the appointment of House conferees.This is the first comprehensive energy bill to advance this far in the legislative process in nine years.

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Comprehensive Energy Policy Legislation: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 8 & S. 2012

Legislative History

In July 2015, comprehensive bills that would modernize U.S. energy policy for the first time since 2007 were introduced in the House and Senate. Notwithstanding their respective controversies, both bills started their legislative journeys with bipartisan support.  That same month, the Senate reported their bill (S. 2012) out of Committee 18-4, and the House bill (H.R. 8) passed unanimously through the Energy and Power Subcommittee.

In the House, the bipartisan spirit appeared to wane in August and September.  The House’s bill lost much of its bipartisan support in the wake of a substitute amendment offered by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).  On September 30, the Energy and Commerce Committee marked the Upton substitute, which was reported out of committee on a largely party-line vote, 32-20.  Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) promised the Republicans that without the bipartisan concessions, H.R. 8 could be vetoed by the President.  And, indeed, after the bill passed through the full Committee, the White House released an official veto threat against the legislation.  Democrats’ attempts at amending the bill on the floor largely failed.  The bill ultimately passed the House in December by a predominantly party-line vote of 249-174, with only nine Democrats voting in favor.

Back in the Senate, S. 2012 first received floor consideration in late January 2016.  The bill’s sponsors and party leadership were hopeful that, in spite of the anticipated introduction of potentially controversial amendments, the bipartisan spirit of the bill would remain intact throughout floor consideration.  This spirit did largely prevail until the Senators from Michigan insisted that the bill’s passage be contingent on Federal funds for Flint, MI, to address its lead water crisis.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) eventually pulled the bill from the floor after it failed to overcome a procedural motion.  The Michigan Senators continued negotiations with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to come to an agreement on Flint.  Finally, in April, an agreement came together and S. 2012 was brought back to the floor.  After the consideration of final amendments, the chamber passed the bill by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 85-12.

Up next, the two chambers will form a formal conference committee where they will reconcile the many differences between the two bills.  Both Rep. Upton and Sen. Murkowski have expressed eagerness in getting the bill to the President before the summer recess, which starts July 16.  There is a lot of work yet ahead, but it is expected that efforts will get underway within the coming weeks.  As the Chairperson of the Senate’s committee of jurisdiction, Sen. Murkowski will “hold the gavel” for the conference committee since the House held control of the proceedings during the last major energy bill conference in 2007.  Sen. Murkowski’s optimism and perseverance during the months-long Flint negotiations highlight her ability and willingness to work with her Democratic partner, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), to accomplish this overhaul legislation and present a final package to the President that is not only comprehensive but bipartisan in nature.

Side-by-Side Comparison

In preparation for conference, we updated our side-by-side comparison of the House- and Senate-passed energy bills.  Our analysis shows 20 issue areas that overlap between the House and Senate energy bills. Those commonalities are charted in the attached side-by-side comparison.  This overlap highlights that while the House Democrats cried partisanship during their markup, the House bill still has plenty of similarities to the bipartisan Senate bill.

Following the chart of commonalities is a list of provisions unique to S. 2012 and then a list unique for H.R. 8.

To view the side-by-side comparison, click here.

Public Meetings on the Clean Energy Fund II: Next Up: Spokane, WA on December 17

A series of public meetings are being held across Washington State to provide an update on the Washington State Legislature’s Clean Energy Fund II. The Clean Energy Fund provides grants to projects that support development, demonstration and deployment of clean energy technologies and is administered by the Department of Commerce’s State Energy Office. Personnel from the Department of Commerce will be at each meeting to provide information and answer questions.

The next meeting is being held in Spokane, Washington at Avista Utilities. The meeting details are:

  • When: Thursday, December 17, 2015
    2:00-4:00 p.m.
  • Where: Avista Utilities
    1411 E. Mission Avenue
    Spokane, WA 99202

If you are interested in attending the meeting on December 17 in Spokane, you can register here. We will keep you updated on future scheduled meetings and updates on the Clean Energy Fund II. More information on the Clean Energy Fund II can be found here.

Greater Sage-Grouse Avoids ESA Listing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) announced on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, that it would not list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”).

This decision represents a change of direction for the Service, which announced in 2010 that the grouse was “warranted for listing”, but the Service now says “new information about the status of the species, potential threats, regulatory mechanisms, and conservation efforts indicates that listing is not warranted.”

Specifically, the Service determined that “the primary threats to greater sage-grouse have been ameliorated by conservation efforts implemented by Federal, State, and private landowners.” The Service identified state regulations, new federal regulations, conservation efforts, and advancements in oil and gas technologies as having reduced threats to the grouse “in approximately 90 percent of the breeding habitat through avoidance and minimization measures.”

Read more on K&L Gates HUB

EPA releases final version of Clean Power Plan

EPA issued the Clean Power Plan in its final form today, August 3, 2015. The rule in effect reshapes energy policy nationwide by setting state-by-state carbon emission standards that all states must achieve through a combination of producing energy more efficiently, reducing energy demand, shifting away from coal-fired generation toward natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable energy, and encouraging state and regional policies such as renewable portfolio standards and cap-and-trade programs. The final rule contains significant changes from the version proposed in 2014, including backing down from an initial earlier deadline for compliance, axing energy efficiency as the fourth “building block” for state targets, increasing the targeted GHG reductions to 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 (up from 30%), and using uniform carbon emissions rates for similar types of power plants.[1]   Read More

Oregon Enacts Energy Storage Legislation

On June 1, 2015, the Oregon legislature passed House Bill 2193-B, which requires certain electric companies to procure qualifying energy storage systems by January 1, 2020, subject to authorization by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (the “Commission”). An electric company may recover in rates all costs prudently incurred in the procurement of the energy storage system(s), including any above-market costs associated with procurement. The final version of the bill enjoyed broad support, passing the Oregon Senate by a vote of 17-12 and the House by a vote of 56-3. Governor Kate Brown signed the bill into law on June 10.

To read the full alert, click here.

Oregon Considers Energy Storage Legislation

The Oregon legislature is considering a bill that would require the state’s large electric utilities to procure one or more “qualifying energy storage systems” by January 1, 2020. H.B. 2193 would apply to any entity that is engaged in the business of distributing electricity to retail electricity consumers in Oregon (not including a consumer-owned utility) if the entity makes sales of electricity to retail customers in an amount that equals 3 percent or more of all electricity sold to retail electricity customers in Oregon. An energy storage system is deemed to be “qualifying” if it is “cost-effective,” and the legislation contemplates that each electric company would procure one or more such systems having the capacity to store not less than 5 megawatts of electricity but not more than an amount of electricity that is equal to one percent of the company’s peak load for 2014. H.B. 2193 would allow an electric company to recover in its rates all costs prudently incurred in procuring one or more cost-effective energy storage systems, “including any above-market costs associated with procurement.”

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Regulatory implications of new products and services in the Australian electricity market

The Energy Market Reform Working Group in Australia released a consultation paper at the end of 2014 regarding the regulatory implications of new products and services in the national electricity market.

New products and services include energy supply from generation facilities installed at the customer’s premises (which may be combined with energy storage), products and services relating to demand management and energy information and advice.

The paper outlines some of the potential regulatory implications of these new products and services. It seeks feedback from stakeholders as to the types of new products and services which may be offered to small customers and whether regulatory reforms may be necessary – from either a consumer protection or a power system operations perspective.

Stakeholders are invited to make submissions on the issues raised by the consultation paper by close of business on 20 March 2015. Written submissions can be sent by email to energycouncil@industry.gov.au. Alternatively, please contact us and we would be happy to assist you in preparing a submission.

To read more about this consultation paper and the key findings and issues identified, please click here.

Australian Government Announces First Emissions Reduction Fund Auction

The Australian Government recently announced that the first Emissions Reduction Fund auction will occur in April 2015. The Emissions Reduction Fund provides proponents of carbon abatement projects with opportunities to enter into contracts with the Government, via the Clean Energy Regulator, under which the proponent receives payment for undertaking carbon abatement. In the reverse auction process project proponents will submit sealed bids for the Clean Energy Regulator to purchase (in the form of Australian carbon credit units) emissions reductions generated by their projects.

Successful auction bids will be those with the lowest price, and successful proponents will then enter into Australian Carbon Contracts with the Clean Energy Regulator. The first auction will be open from 9.00am (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on 15 April 2015 and close at 5.00pm on 16 April 2015 (Australian Eastern Standard Time). The auction will occur through the online bidding platform Austender.
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