On January 8, 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “Commission”) issued an order rejecting the Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) notice of proposed rule making (“NOPR”) that would have allowed fuel secure generation that would include coal and nuclear generation facilities with a 90-day fuel supply to “fully recover costs” to maintain the resiliency of the electric grid. The Commission found that the NOPR did not comply with Section 206 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”). Instead, the Commission initiated a new proceeding to “examine holistically the resilience of the bulk power system” and directed regional transmission organizations (“RTOs”) and independent system operators (“ISOs”) to respond to questions outlined in the order addressing grid resilience issues by March 9, 2018. All other interested entities may submit reply comments by April 9, 2018. Commissioners LaFleur, Chatterjee, and Glick each issued separate concurring opinions.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) has scheduled a technical conference on May 1 and 2 to discuss and obtain input on the interaction between competitive wholesale markets and state energy policies. In recent years, several states that are part of organized wholesale energy markets have adopted legislation or policies to support or promote certain generation resources or resource types. As a result of these state policy initiatives, FERC has been forced to grapple with questions about state versus federal jurisdiction and the effect of the state policies on competition and prices in the organized wholesale energy markets. The technical conference offers an open forum to discuss potential solutions and find ways to reconcile states’ interests with interests in preserving the benefits of regional competitive wholesale markets. Read More
On December 15, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to revise Parts 35 and 37 of its regulations, as well as the pro forma Large Generator Interconnection Procedures (“LGIP”) and pro forma Large Generator Interconnection Agreement (“LGIA”). The proposed reforms are designed to improve certainty, promote more informed interconnection, and enhance interconnection processes.
The pro forma LGIP and LGIA establish the terms and conditions by which public utilities subject to the Federal Power Act must provide interconnection service to Large Generating Facilities. FERC defines “Large Generating Facilities” as facilities with generating capacity greater than 20 MW. While FERC has previously undertaken steps to reduce undue discrimination in the generator interconnection process, interconnection customers have continued to express concerns regarding inefficiencies and discriminatory practices. Moreover, FERC proposes that recent changes to the resource mix, the emergence of new technologies, changes to state and federal policies, and challenges with the interconnection study process warrant reforms. Based, in part, on input received from stakeholders following a 2015 technical conference on these issues, the NOPR identifies reforms to benefit both interconnection customers through timely and cost-effective interconnection and transmission providers by mitigating the potential for re-studies associated with late-stage interconnection request withdrawals.
Specifically, FERC proposes reforms that focus on improving aspects of the pro forma LGIP and LGIA, the pro forma Open Access Transmission Tariff, and the Commission’s regulations. These reforms fall into three broad categories: (1) reforms intended to improve certainty in the interconnection process; (2) reforms intended to improve transparency by providing more information to interconnection customers; and (3) reforms intended to enhance interconnection processes. FERC requests comment from interested stakeholders on specific issues related to development and implementation of each of the proposals within these three broad areas of reform. An overview of FERC’s proposals and request for comment on each area of reform are summarized below.
Comments on the NOPR will be due 60 days from publication in the Federal Register. A copy of the NOPR is available here.
Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress (collectively, Duke) recently issued two requests for proposals (RFPs) as part of the implementation of Duke’s Distributed Energy Resource Program (DERP). The DERP, which was developed pursuant to South Carolina’s Distributed Energy Resource Act of 2014 (Act 236), was approved by the South Carolina Public Service Commission earlier this year. (See more information about Duke’s program.)
Recently, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal signed into law House Bill 57, known as the Solar Power Free-Market Financing Act of 2015 (the Solar Power Act). The Solar Power Act, which both houses of the state’s General Assembly passed unanimously, allows homes and businesses to install solar technology under third party ownership (TPO). Although it sailed through the General Assembly, the Solar Power Act is the product of detailed negotiations and compromise between lawmakers, electric service providers, and consumers. The introduction of TPO through the Solar Power Act is expected to provide a significant boost to the residential and commercial solar markets in Georgia. Read More
Declining prices for solar equipment and generous government incentives have broadened the appeal of community solar gardens. Community solar gardens, which are arrangements in which multiple users invest in and benefit from a solar array, provide a simple and cost-effective means for power consumers to acquire clean energy without having to bear the entire cost of purchasing or leasing a solar array. According to GTM Research, the community solar market is forecasted to grow fivefold in 2015.
For a variety of reasons, most energy consumers cannot own or lease a solar array—for example, they may not control the rights to their roof or their roof may be physically unsuitable. Community solar gardens offer these consumers the opportunity to invest in an offsite, local solar array in exchange for reductions in their energy bills. This new model expands consumer access to solar energy while also conferring a host of ancillary benefits.
This alert outlines the foundation of community solar gardens and describes their main legal considerations. While this alert cannot describe all the legal issues of community solar gardens nationwide, it covers common federal and state law issues that individuals involved with community solar gardens should anticipate.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) has issued an interpretive policy statement clarifying its jurisdiction to regulate third-party owners of solar panels and other net metering systems as “Public Service Companies.” Docket No. UE-112133 (July 30, 2014) (statement). While the WUTC’s policy statement provides useful guidance on the agency’s current position and the action it will likely take in the future, the statement is not binding on the agency. Read More
Last Thursday, July 3rd, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued its finalized loan guarantee solicitation for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. DOE made $2.5 billion in loan guarantee authority directly available through the solicitation, but indicated that an expansion of this financing up to $4 billion is possible depending on how much it can stretch an appropriated credit subsidy on applications. This suite of loan guarantees has been a highly sought after item as Secretary Ernest Moniz and other DOE officials have repeatedly stressed the Department’s focus on renewable and energy efficiency research and financing. DOE support for research and investment in these areas can be seen as an extension of the President’s Climate Action Plan, as the Administration strives to cut carbon emissions. Read More
The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) will hold its Power Generation and Infrastructure Executive meeting at the K&L Gates New York office on June 23, 2014 from 1:00 – 5:00 p.m. This meeting will focus on expanding the role of renewable energy and distributed energy resources in improving grid resiliency in the Tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Leaders from the power, business, investment, regulatory, and non-profit sectors will examine the challenges and opportunities in renewable energy and distributed energy solutions in support of regional grid resiliency and reliability.
To read more about the event and to register, visit ACORE’s event site.