Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland Expand Utility Regulators’ Mandate to Include Climate Considerations, Marking an Emerging Trend by State Legislatures

Maine, Massachusetts, and Maryland all passed legislation this summer that expands the raison d’etre of state utility regulatory bodies to include addressing the impacts of climate change. These efforts mark an emerging trend of legislative bodies directing utility regulators to help advance climate policies. This enhanced vision of utility regulation gives me hope in the fight against climate change.

Despite the fact that utility regulators play a huge role in our energy sector–the sector primarily responsible for historical U.S.… More

NESCOE Report Advances Governors’ Demands for Climate Leadership at ISO-NE

The managers of the New England States Committee on Electricity (“NESCOE”) recently released a report (“Report”) to New England’s governors to advance its shared vision for a clean, affordable, and reliable 21st-century electric grid. The Report is the latest development that highlights the growing tension between the states’ decarbonization policies on the one hand, and ISO-NE’s wholesale market rules, on the other. The Report calls for critical changes to three elements of New England’s regional energy system: wholesale market design,… More

Local Communities and Environmental Groups Bring Challenge to the New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting’s Regulations for Siting and Permitting Major Renewable Energy Facilities

On June 29, 2021, a cohort of New York local governments (including many where large-scale solar projects are currently proposed), community organizations, and avian interest groups filed a lawsuit in the New York State Supreme Court (the State’s trial-level court) against the Office of Renewable Energy Siting (“ORES”).  ORES is required to respond to the allegations no later than 30 days from receipt.

The ORES was created under the Accelerated Renewable Energy Growth and Community Benefit Act,… More

Biden Administration Targets Chinese Solar Power Industry Over Human Rights Abuses

As predicted in our recent article in Power Magazine related to international trade risks facing the clean energy industry, the Biden administration took action against several Chinese companies involved in the solar power industry over alleged human rights abuses.

On June 24, 2021, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) issued a Withhold-Release Order (“WRO”) on silica-based products and their derivatives (such as polysilicon) produced by Hoshine Silicon Industry Co.… More

Congress A Step Closer to Making Corporate ESG Disclosure Mandatory

On June 16, 2021, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that would impose new ESG due diligence and disclosure requirements on publicly traded companies.  H.R. 1187 – the ESG Disclosure Simplification Act of 2021 – would require publicly traded companies to disclose their commitments to ensuring that environmental, social (human rights), and good governance standards (ESG) are reflected in their operations, activities, and supply chains.

The Legislation’s Impact on ESG Due Diligence and Disclosure

Specifically,… More

The Electric Vehicle Future: Major Climate Opportunity Faces Three Critical Challenges

Amid renewed national ambitions to tackle climate change, electric vehicles (EVs) have emerged as a promising way to reduce emissions in the transportation sector, which accounts for nearly a third of greenhouse gas emissions. This approach has garnered support even from private industry, as evidenced by the flurry of car manufacturers who recently committed to all-EV fleets in the coming decades.… More

New York Legislature Passes Cross-Utility Crediting for CDG Projects

On June 10, 2021, the New York legislature passed a bill allowing customers to subscribe to certain community distributed generation (CDG) projects sited outside of their utility service territory, a practice known as “cross-utility crediting.” This bill, which aims to increase access to CDG projects particularly for those in New York City’s disadvantaged communities, awaits Governor Cuomo’s signature.

Under current rules, CDG subscribers can only enroll in projects that are located in their utility service territory.… More

TCI Update: Final Model Rule Addresses EJ, but Political Will May Be Lacking

On June 10, 2021, the Transportation Climate Initiative Program (TCI-P) states released a final model rule creating a regional cap-and-trade-program to reduce carbon emissions from the transportation sector. We wrote about the draft model rule and its implementation challenges when it was released at the beginning of March. Now, after a two-month stakeholder engagement process, the jurisdictions working to implement the program ask stakeholders to weigh in on the guidance documents,… More

New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting Sets Precedent in Section 94-c Permit Proceedings: When Major Renewable Energy Projects Need Not Comply with Local Laws

In its first such determination, on June 4, 2021, the newly formed New York State Office of Renewable Energy Siting (“ORES”) determined that several provisions of the Town of Barre’s (Orleans County) local law are “unreasonably burdensome” in light of the State’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) goals and the environmental benefits of the proposed 185 megawatt Heritage Wind Project, and therefore declined to apply them. This determination sets a precedent under the State’s Executive Law Section 94-c permitting regime for major renewable energy facilities,… More

The Government’s Swift Response to Pipeline Cyberattack: Executive Order and TSA Security Directive

On May 10, 2021, the hacking group DarkSide succeeded in shutting down the Colonial Pipeline with a ransomware attack that highlighted the vulnerability of the U.S. energy sector to cyberattacks.  The attack led to a panic among many consumers in the Southeast, resulting in a fuel shortage throughout several states.  According to media reports, Colonial Pipeline paid $4.4 million in ransom to DarkSide to get its system back online.… More