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DISCLAIMER: This blog is published for general information only - it is not intended to constitute legal advice and cannot be relied upon by any person as legal advice. While we welcome you to contact our authors, the submission of a comment or question does not create an attorney-client relationship between the Firm and you.

Tuesday
Oct132009

Katie Gray Attends Cap & Trade Seminar in Auburn

The Maine State Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, sponsored a presentation on proposed federal cap-and-trade legislation.  The presentation was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Auburn, Maine.  Katie Gray, an Associate in Verrill Dana’s Energy Practice Group, attended, along with several other members of Maine’s legal, business, and political communities.

Ross Eisenberg, from the U.S. Chamber, argued that the proposed federal legislation would be extremely complicated and too costly for businesses, and that even a best-case scenario reduction in warming would be minimal.  In essence, the costs would far outweigh the benefits.  Climate initiatives must be arranged on a global scale, not piecemeal on a country-by-country basis, in order to be effective, the U.S. Chamber argues.  Dr. Margo Thorning, of the American Council for Capital Formation, outlined her statistical analysis arguing the same.

David Littell, a commissioner with the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, focused on the serious problems posed by global warming and what they mean for Maine.  He also pointed to the success of the RGGI program in Maine.

Some major corporations, including Nike and Apple, have abandoned their memberships on the U.S. Chamber’s board over the Chamber’s position on federal efforts to combat global warming.  Others, like Johnson & Johnson and GE, have stayed on.  At least three major utilities—Exelon, PG&E, and PNM Resources—have withdrawn their memberships.

Thursday
Sep242009

N.H. and Mass. Generator Facilities Qualify for Maine Renewable Portfolio Standard, Says Maine PUC

In a pair of decisions issued September 1, 2009, the Maine PUC ruled that out-of-state generation facilities may be counted toward Maine’s renewable portfolio standard.

Chapter 311 of the PUC’s rules permits the Commission to certify generating facilities as eligible to satisfy Maine’s new renewable resource portfolio requirements.  Pursuant to that rule, the PUC certified the University of New Hampshire’s 7.9-MW combined heat and power plant, which is located in Durham, N.H. (Docket No. 2009-184).  The PUC also certified Richey Properties’ 600-kW wind turbine generator, located in Newburyport, Mass. (Docket No. 2009-197). 

For the PUC, the two requests “raise[d] the issue of whether behind-the-meter generation that is located outside of Maine (and therefore does not service Maine customers) is eligible to be used to satisfy Maine’s portfolio requirement.”  The PUC approved the requests, concluding that the facilities serve the needs of Maine customers that would otherwise be served by the New England market.  Therefore, the impact is the same as if the facilities sold energy into and purchased from the New England market.

UNH’s cogeneration plant has burned 89% landfill gas and 11% natural gas and diesel oil since May 2009.  Landfill gas is an eligible fuel under Maine’s renewable portfolio law.  Although the plant is a dual-fuel facility that uses natural gas and diesel, which are ineligible, the PUC explained that the statute does not exclude dual-fuel facilities and that such facilities are consistent with the standards because the “primary fuel is eligible.”  The order did not define “primary fuel” for these purposes.

Energy that Richey’s wind turbine generates is either used by Mark Richey Woodworking in its business operations in Newburyport or sold to National Grid’s Massachusetts Electric Co.  The turbine has been in operation since February 2009.

Monday
Sep212009

Second Circuit: Utilities May Be Sued for Global Warming "Injuries"

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled today that the tort doctrine of public nuisance may be used to sue a power company for environmental injuries related to global warming—the question is justiciable, the land trusts have standing to sue based on future injury, and the Clean Air Act does not prevent a suit based upon the federal common law public nuisance doctrine.  Defendants also included TVA, Cinergy, Xcel Energy, and Southern Co.

The case is Connecticut v. American Electric Power Co., and the 140-page decision is available in PDF form here.

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