On April 14, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (D.C. Circuit) issued a decision in Emera Maine v. FERC regarding the appropriate return on equity (ROE) for transmission owners in New England.  The court’s decision vacated and remanded the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC or Commission) precedent-setting Opinion No. 531, issued in 2014.  In that opinion, FERC had reset the ROE for transmission owners in New England in response to a complaint, and had articulated a new approach for evaluating and setting electric sector ROEs.  Opinion No. 531 In 2011, transmission customers and state officials filed a complaint at FERC under section 206 of the Federal Power Act (FPA), alleging that the 11.14% base ROE... READ MORE
Introduction For climate policy advocates, California has been a kind of sanctuary state, unflagging in its commitment to ambitious mitigation strategies even as the Trump Administration moves to unwind programs at the federal level.  In 2016, the California Legislature enacted an aggressive target for the state: reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.  However, the state’s climate policies have been subject to ongoing judicial and legislative uncertainty.  On April 6, 2017, a California appellate court lifted one of those clouds of uncertainty, issuing a 2-1 decision that preserves the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program – at least through 2020.  California Chamber of Commerce v. CARB.  Thereafter, the fate... READ MORE
On Tuesday March 28, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order that takes the first step in rolling back executive actions that had been undertaken by the Obama Administration to address climate change and energy resource development.  The far-reaching order directly revokes or rescinds certain presidential and regulatory actions and directs the review and potential subsequent rescission or revision of other key programs and regulations administered by a variety of agencies.  However, it does not go as far as the Trump Administration might have in uprooting the underpinning of the federal government’s climate authority—the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 2009 endangerment finding—or in walking away from the international process to... READ MORE
The 21st Annual Mid-C Seminar will cover a wide range of topics including the changing landscape in EIM, regulatory issues, REC's, physical trading, smart grid, and operational issues of changing resources. Van Ness Feldman's Malcolm McLellan will be giving a presentation entitled, "Transmission in the West Update." Van Ness Feldman is a proud sponsor of this year's seminar. Click here for more information and to register. READ MORE
“Development of Washington’s shorelines triggers overlapping and sometimes inconsistent local, state and federal regulations, as well as tribal treaty rights. Proponents of small private projects as well as large public facility projects in shoreline environments can be affected equally by these layers of regulation. Meanwhile, regulators and treaty tribes are tasked with balancing the many legitimate uses of the state’s shorelines and their abundant natural resources." Van Ness Feldman's Tadas Kisielius is speaking on, "Recent Developments in Port Management." Click here for more information. READ MORE
On Friday, April 14, 2017, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued an Emergency Order under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act to the Grand River Dam Authority (GRDA), an agency of the state of Oklahoma, to operate Unit 1 at the Grand River Energy Center (GREC) as needed to provide dynamic reactive power support in the GRDA service area until replacement generation capacity at the GREC becomes available.  The Van Ness Feldman team of Janet Anderson, Britt Fleming, Van Smith, and David Yaffe led the effort with GRDA to secure the Section 202(c) emergency order. GRDA had originally intended to retire Unit 1 and replace it with new, natural-gas fired generating capacity by April 16, 2016, which was the extended compliance deadline for the... READ MORE
Maranda Compton,a member of the firm's Native Affairs practice group was quoted in the Washington Post today in an article entitled, How the Army Corps of Engineers wound up in the middle of the fight over the Dakota Access pipeline. READ MORE
Shannon Angielski, a Principal in the firm’s Government Relations practice and the Executive Director of CURC, announced today that CURC has expanded the scope of their mission and has adopted the new name  as the Carbon Utilization Research Council.  READ MORE
NERC NERC Comments on FERC Remedial Action Scheme NOPR - April 10 - NERC submitted comments to FERC in support of the Commission's January 19, 2017 NOPR to approve NERC Reliability Standard PRC-012-2. The purpose of proposed Reliability Standard PRC-012-2 is to add design, implementation, and review requirements to ensure that Remedial Action Schemes (“RAS”) do not introduce unintentional or unacceptable reliability risks to the Bulk Electric System (“BES”). NERC urged the Commission to approve the Standard without directing modifications.  NERC Responds to FERC Data Request for Approval of Reliability Standards - April 6 - NERC responded to the Data Request issued by FERC on March 7, 2017 in which the FERC requested additional information in... READ MORE
PHMSA Announces User Fee Rate Structure for Underground Natural Gas Storage Facilities On April 6, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) issued a Notice announcing the user fee rate structure that will apply to operators of underground natural gas storage facilities during fiscal year 2017 if Congress appropriates funds that were authorized under section 2 of the Protecting Our Infrastructure of Pipelines and Enhancing Safety Act of 2016 (PIPES Act).  The fees will fund safety oversight activities of PHMSA and state regulators at storage facilities and will be based on the amount of each operator’s working gas capacity at both active and inactive fields, as reported to the Energy Information Administration.  PHMSA... READ MORE
NERC NERC Petitions FERC for Approval of Proposed Emergency Operations Reliability Standards - March 27 - NERC petitioned FERC for approval of four different Emergency Operations ("EOP") Reliability Standards: EOP-004-4 (Event Reporting), EOP-005-3 (System Restoration and Blackstart Resources), EOP-006-3 (System Restoration Coordination) and EOP-008-2 (Loss of Control Center Functionality). The proposed standards are designed to respectively provide accurate reporting of to NERC's Event Analysis group to analyze the impact of the Bulk Reliability System; delineate the role and responsibilities of entities that support System restoration from Blackstart Resources; clarify the procedures and requirements for Reliability Coordinator Personnel to... READ MORE