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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.

Entries in Renewable Energy (6)

Tuesday
Aug012017

“Untethered” Clean Energy Subsidies Survive Post-Hughes Preemption Challenges

Last year in Hughes v. Talen, the Supreme Court struck down a Maryland generator subsidy program, concluding that it had a direct impact on the wholesale energy auctions and was therefore preempted by the Federal Power Act (FPA). Broadly speaking, under the FPA, wholesale energy sales are federally regulated, by FERC and regional grid operators, and retail sales are state regulated. As described by the court, the fatal flaw inherent in Maryland’s program was that it was directly linked to the generator’s participation in the regional wholesale energy (or capacity) auction—it required generators to bid into the wholesale market but guaranteed them a price distinct from the market clearing price, thereby distorting the wholesale market. Critically, however, the court expressly limited its holding, stating: “Nothing in this opinion should be read to foreclose Maryland and other States from encouraging production of new or clean generation through measures untethered to a generator’s wholesale market participation.” (emphasis added)

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Wednesday
Apr202016

Hughes v. Talen Energy: Supreme Court Strikes Down Maryland Generation Subsidy on Narrow Grounds

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued its decision (8-0) in Hughes v. Talen Energy striking down a Maryland program that encouraged additional in-state generation. Hughes is the second decision of the term, following FERC v. Electric Power Supply Association, in which the Court has struggled to clarify the increasingly blurry boundary between state and federal jurisdiction over energy policy. In this case, the Court focused on the precise mechanism of the Maryland program which required load serving entities (LSEs) in Maryland to enter into a 20-year pricing contract with a new gas-fired generator owned by CPV Maryland, LLC (CPV). To understand the Court’s holding, it is necessary to understand a bit about FERC’s capacity auctions.

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Friday
Apr012016

Maine Commission Reviews Non-Transmission Alternative Pilot Project; Opens New Docket to Appoint NTA Coordinator

Eight years ago, Central Maine Power (CMP), Maine’s largest T&D utility, proposed the Maine Power Reliability Program (MPRP)—a comprehensive plan to upgrade transmission resources ensure reliable service to its customers throughout its service territory. As part of an agreement reached in that docket, a Non-Transmission Alternative (NTA) pilot project in Boothbay Harbor was implemented. Grid Solar was selected as the coordinator for the pilot project, which went live in 2013.

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Tuesday
Mar152016

Maine Solar Bill Proposes to Expand Capacity Without Net Metering

On March 10, the Maine Legislature’s Energy, Utilities & Technology Committee reported out a bill that is the culmination of the solar stakeholder process at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The bill sets a target of developing 248 MW of new solar capacity over a five-year period beginning in 2017. The bill defines four categories of solar power development in Maine: grid-scale, large-scale community, commercial and industrial, and residential and small business.

As previously explained here, the most controversial aspect of the new legislation is that it would end net metering (AKA “net energy billing”) for rooftop solar. During the solar stakeholder process at the PUC, a compromise consensus emerged among the utilities, the solar industry, environmental groups, and the Office of the Public Advocate, which represents ratepayers in Maine.

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Friday
Dec112015

Large-Scale Solar Having Its Moment in the Sun

Last week the Portland Press Herald reported that the Maine Public Utilities Commission will direct Maine’s transmission and distribution utilities to enter into a long-term contract with Dirigo Solar for the construction of up to 75 MW of new solar installations across the state.

The Commission was especially pleased with the price offered by Dirigo. According to a term sheet filed with the Commission last month, the price will be $35/MWh for all of the energy and capacity benefits generated by the solar projects. The price will increase by 2.5% annually over a total term of 20 years. These terms compare very favorably with other long-term renewable contracts approved by the Commission.

Earlier this year, for example, the Commission approved a 25-year contract for the Highland Wind project at a price of $43.80/MWh with the same annual 2.5% increase. Although the Highland Wind contract included other provisions that make an apples-to-apples comparison difficult, $35/MWh is nevertheless an impressive price for solar.

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Friday
Dec052014

Two Important Clean Energy Announcements for New England

The following content was originally posted to Verrill Dana’s environmental law blog Law of the Land (and Air and Water) at www.environmentallawupdate.com.

Offshore Wind
January 29, 2015 – that’s the date the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has selected for the auctioning of four leases within the Massachusetts offshore Wind Energy Area (WEA). The WEA is located 12 nautical miles south of Martha’s Vineyard and encompasses more than 742,000 acres. A map of the proposed location can be found here (green shading). Department of the Interior Secretary Sally Jewell praised the Commonwealth and Governor Patrick stating, “This sale will triple the amount of federal offshore acreage available for commercial-scale wind energy projects, bringing Massachusetts to the forefront of our nation’s new energy frontier.”

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