Category Archives: Energy

FERC Rulemaking State of Play

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)-watchers have their eyes squarely on recent reports that Senator Joe Manchin, Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, won’t schedule a hearing on Chairman Richard Glick’s re-appointment this year, meaning that Glick will leave FERC when his term expires in January 2023.  Glick has led FERC in pressing reforms to modernize the country’s transmission system and help bring more renewable and energy storage resources online. … More

Biden Announces New Initiative on “Game-Changing” Technologies for Achieving Net-Zero Emissions

On November 4, 2022, the White House announced a new initiative to support research and development projects on 37 “game-changing” technologies to advance the Biden Administration’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050.

Led by an interagency working group, the “Net-Zero Game Changers Initiative” will direct billions of dollars under the bipartisan infrastructure law, the CHIPS and Science Act,… More

Coming soon to Massachusetts cities and towns: all electric buildings

As we’ve discussed before, multiple cities and towns in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts have tried to ban fossil fuel hookups for new buildings by zoning or other ordinance over the past few years.  But in July 2020, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Municipal Law Unit struck down the first such ban that came across its desk as inconsistent with other state law.  As we noted then, in order for municipalities to restrict or ban fossil fuel connections,… More

Inflation Reduction Act Establishes Federal Green Bank, Expands OSW Leasing, Reforms Energy Project Permitting

On August 7, 2022 the Senate passed the Inflation Reduction Act – a sweeping piece of budget reconciliation legislation that touches on everything from energy and climate to Medicaid prescription prices.  Germane to the energy and climate sector, the Act includes $369 billion for spending on “energy security and climate change” over the next ten years and an additional $250 billion in additional authority for the Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office. … More

FERC issues Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concerning generator interconnection; aims to speed, simplify processes

Electric transmission planning processes have not been able to keep pace with demand for interconnection service, leaving over 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of generation and 400 GW of storage stranded in the nation’s interconnection queues. In response to the backlog, PJM Interconnection LLC—the nation’s largest RTO by load served—recently imposed a two-year pause on new interconnection requests and asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to consider reforms to its interconnection process.… More

FERC Approves ISO-New England’s Implementation of Capacity Market Design Changes and MOPR Elimination

On Friday, May 27, 2022, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued an order approving ISO-New England’s proposed tariff revisions, which phase out the ISO’s minimum offer price rule (MOPR) by 2024. The tariff revisions institute an interim Transition Mechanism to organize ISO-New England’s 2022 and 2023 capacity auctions, which will together allow 700 megawatts (MW) of state-sponsored renewable resources to participate without application of the MOPR.… More

Foley Hoag Hosts Energy Bar Association’s Northeast Chapter Annual Meeting

On Wednesday, June 8, Foley Hoag hosted the Energy Bar Association’s (EBA) Northeast Chapter Annual Meeting at the firm’s Boston offices. The event featured three panels, which explored the changing laws, technologies, and industry dynamics at play in the battery storage sector, Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (ESG), and electric transmission planning respectively.

Carol Holahan, partner at Foley Hoag and co-chair of the firm’s energy and climate practice group,… More

Biden Administration Announces $3.1 Billion Grant Program for Battery Processing and Manufacturing to Support Clean Energy and Transportation

On May 2, 2022, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the release of a funding opportunity announcement (“FOA”) through which DOE may provide $3.1 billion in grant funding to support projects that will accelerate the development of a resilient supply chain for high-capacity batteries.  This FOA, the authority for which is provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”), is the first release of more than $7 billion included in the IIJA to strengthen the U.S.… More

DPU Orders the Creation of an Energy Storage Interconnection Review Group

Energy storage systems (“ESS”) can help increase grid efficiency, facilitate the operation of increasing amounts of renewable energy, and lower energy costs, among other benefits. As energy storage systems increase in number in Massachusetts, a myriad of questions have emerged regarding their regulation and integration into the electrical grid.

DPU Order

On February 9, 2022, the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (“DPU”) released an order under Docket 19-55 with the goal of finding answers to some of these questions.… More

Cybersecurity 2022 – The Year in Preview: Continued Threats to Nation’s Energy Supply as Regulators Race to Keep Up

Continued Threats of Ransomware Attacks

As we reported in our 2021 Year in Preview series, we began 2021 anticipating that ransomware would be a serious threat to critical energy infrastructure.  These concerns were realized in May 2021 when the Colonial Pipeline Company’s (“Colonial”) entire 5,500-mile pipeline system carrying liquid fuels was shut down due to a ransomware attack by DarkSide, a hacking group that allegedly has loose ties to the Russian government.… More

BOEM Announces Upcoming Wind Energy Lease Auction in the New York Bight; New York’s Next Offshore Wind Solicitation to Follow

Today, January 12, 2022, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced that on February 23, 2022 it will hold a wind energy lease auction for six areas in the New York Bight (NY Bight), the coastal area between Long Island and the New Jersey coast. BOEM’s issuance of the Final Sale Notice (FSN) for the wind energy lease areas comes just days after New York State Governor Kathy Hochul announced in her State of the State address that the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will issue its next offshore wind solicitation following BOEM’s lease sale in the NY Bight.… More

Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act Part 2: Investing in Transmission

This is the second post in our series on the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, covering how the Act invests in strengthening our electric grid, which could better prepare us for the shift from fossil fuel generated electricity to renewable power.

To decarbonize our energy system, electrify transportation and buildings, and drastically reduce our contribution to climate change, we’ll need to develop and deploy significant wind,… More

D.C. Circuit 2019 RVO Decision is a Mixed Bag for Biofuels

The biofuels industry has had a challenging season in the courts. Several weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit that had limited EPA’s ability to grant waivers to small refiners that allow them to escape compliance obligations under the federal Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) Program. Then, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (the D.C.… 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

LIPA Issues Much-Awaited Bulk Energy Storage RFP

On April 30, 2021, PSEG Long Island, LLC (PSEG-LI), on behalf of the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA), issued a much-awaited request for proposals (RFP) seeking 175 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale storage projects that will interconnect to the Long Island electricity grid. This RFP issuance follows a Request for Information nearly a year ago regarding how such a solicitation should be structured. The storage deployment resulting from this RFP will make a significant contribution to New York’s statewide goals

of deploying 3,000 MWs of energy storage by 2030,… More

New York Updates Distributed Energy Tariff and Sets Course for Further Deliberation

Hours before a technical conference on potential future pathways for solar development in New York State, the New York State Department of Public Service (“DPS”) unexpectedly updated the Environmental Value (“E-Value”) component of State’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources (“VDER”) Tariff “Value Stack.” However, the update was not the one advocated for by the solar industry based upon the December 2020 cost of carbon guidance from the State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (“DEC”),… More

Federal Offshore Wind Plan Boosts State Efforts in Massachusetts

As President Biden announces his blueprint for expanding the use of offshore wind (OSW) power, Massachusetts hopes to become an industry hub. Those plans will certainly be facilitated by the new federal OSW policies.

On March 29, the Biden administration published a major plan to mobilize offshore wind development, particularly along the East Coast. The plan aims to construct 30,000 megawatts of OSW generation by 2030,… More

Is a New Electricity Grid in Our Future? President Biden Thinks So.

The White House this morning released a fact sheet on “The American Jobs Plan,” also known as President Biden’s infrastructure plan.  There’s a lot in here (as there should be for a couple of trillion dollars!), so today I’ll focus on energy infrastructure.  Here are the highlights: 

  • $100B to “build a more resilient electric transmission system.”  This includes “the creation of a targeted investment tax credit that incentivizes the buildout of at least 200 gigawatts of high-voltage capacity power lines.”
  • Creation of a “Grid Deployment Authority” within DOE to facilitate transmission line siting.…
  • More

The Massachusetts Climate Bill is Very Much “Not Dead”

In January, when Governor Baker vetoed the Legislature’s effort to go big on climate, my colleague Zach Gerson made clear that the bill was not even “mostly dead.”  I am pleased to say that Zach’s diagnosis was correct.  The climate bill is very much alive.

Last week, the Legislature passed a new version of the bill, which adopted most of the Governor’s technical suggestions and almost none of his substantive changes. … More

Biden Faces Challenges at Home as U.S. Rejoins Paris Agreement

As promised, President Biden has recommitted the U.S. to the Paris climate agreement. He’s also undertaken sweeping executive action to undo the previous administration’s environmental rollbacks. But after four years of lagging behind the rest of the world, the U.S. will face significant challenges in achieving meaningful emissions reductions without new legislation. And that means a tough road ahead working with an evenly divided Senate and moderates in Biden’s own party from states that remain dependent on fossil fuels.… More

Make a U-Turn and then Full Speed Ahead: Clean Air

Within hours after being sworn into office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order (“EO”) that teed up a slew of clean air issues as top environmental priorities. The Biden administration signaled its plan to unwind four years of environmental and energy policies marked by aggressive deregulation and sidelining efforts to combat climate change.

Although only allotted a short paragraph in the EO,… More

There’s a big difference between mostly dead and all dead.

Sometimes, “mostly dead” is just a pause before successfully storming the castle.  On January 14, Governor Baker vetoed the climate bill that passed the Massachusetts Legislature on January 4 with overwhelming support (see our posts here, here, and here).  I couldn’t resist the Princess Bride reference, but despite the veto, it is probably a stretch to refer to the bill as even “mostly dead.”… More

Major Climate Bill Recommits Massachusetts to Climate Goals

On January 4th, as the legislative session came to a close, both houses of the Massachusetts legislature passed “An Act Creating a Next-Generation Roadmap for Massachusetts Climate Policy.”  My colleague, Seth Jaffe, posted on the act yesterday, when the details of the bill first came out, focusing on the climate and economic impacts.  There is no doubt that this act will significantly shape Massachusetts’s path towards a net-zero future.… More

Deadline Approaching for Comments on Proposal to Reform Distribution System Planning and Allocation of Interconnection Costs

When the Massachusetts DPU opened docket DPU 20-75, I described it as a proposal to fundamentally change system planning and cost allocation in Massachusetts.  The interconnection process in Massachusetts has been a perpetual wellspring of challenges for installing distributed energy resources – challenges that have grown in scope and complexity in recent years.  Opportunities to rework the basic structure of that process do not come around every day. … More

Department of Public Utilities Proposes Rethink for Distribution System Planning and Interconnection Costs

On October 22, the Massachusetts DPU issued an Order opening a new docket (DPU 20-75) that seeks comments on a proposal to shake up the way the electric distribution system is planned and paid for in Massachusetts.  As I see it, the core idea is to move from being reactive—upgrading the system piecemeal when individual distributed resources seek to interconnect—to being proactive—planning prospectively for the integration of the distributed generation resources we know are coming.… More

D.C. Circuit Decision Upholds Access to Wholesale Markets for Energy Storage Resources, but Will More Litigation Follow?

On July 10, 2020, the D.C. Circuit upheld FERC Order 841, the landmark order requiring wholesale markets to allow participation by energy storage resources.  Challengers had contended that by prohibiting states from barring energy storage resources on the distribution system from participating in wholesale markets, FERC had exceeded its jurisdiction and infringed on state authority.

The D.C. Circuit rejected those claims. … More