Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On June 8, 2017, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) released a report on the August 2016 Blue Cut Fire, which resulted in the loss of 1,200 megawatts (“MW”) of solar photovoltaic (“PV”) power generation.  NERC’s report contains recommendations for avoiding similar incidents by reconfiguring solar inverters, the devices that convert solar energy from direct current to alternating current.

On August 16, 2016, the Blue Cut Fire erupted in Southern California’s Cajon Pass, near a significant transmission corridor containing three 500 kilovolt (“kV”) lines owned by Southern California Edison (“SCE”) and two 287 kV lines owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (“LADWP”).  During the incident, the fire interrupted solar PV power generation in the transmission corridor by inducing faults on the transmission system.  In total, the SCE lines experienced 13 faults and the LADWP lines experienced two faults.  The most significant event resulted in the loss of 1,200 MW of solar PV power generation.  The fault events did not de-energize any of the solar PV facilities; instead, the facilities ceased output in response to the faults perceived on the system. Continue Reading NERC Recommends Inverter Changes After California Fire Disrupts Solar Generation

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On June 8, 2017, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) released the draft final proposal of Phase 2 of its energy storage and distributed energy resources (“ESDER”) initiative.  The aim of the proposal is to lower the barrier to entry and market participation for various transmission grid-connected energy storage and distribution-connected resources. “Integrating these resources,” the proposal states, “will help lower carbon emissions and add operational flexibility.” Continue Reading CAISO Issues Draft Final Proposal on Energy Storage and Distributed Energy Resources

By Brian Harms and Emily Prince*

On May 23 the Trump Administration released its formal FY 2018 budget proposal for congressional approval. The formal budget mirrors many of the aspects of the budget blueprint that the Administration released on March 16—including significant cuts to offices and programs relating to renewable energy.

Overall, the proposal cuts the budgets of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The cuts align with the Administration’s goals of reducing non-defense discretionary spending to fund an increase in defense and infrastructure spending. Continue Reading President Trump Sends $4.1 Trillion Budget to Congress

Originally Posted on Troutman Sander’s Washington Energy Report

On June 5, 2017, Advanced Energy Economy (“Advanced”), a national trade association representing organizations within the energy efficiency, demand response, and other advanced energy industry sectors, filed a petition for a declaratory order with FERC.  Among other things, the petition requests that FERC assert exclusive jurisdiction over how Energy Efficiency Resources (“EERs”) can participate in markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (“RTOs/ISOs”).  In particular, Advanced highlights a recent proposal from PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) to initiate a stakeholder process to ultimately grant state regulators the authority to bar, restrict, or otherwise condition EER participation in PJM’s capacity market.  The petition, filed while FERC still lacks a quorum to take action, came just days before the Kentucky Public Service Commission (“KYPSC”) issued an order restricting participation of EERs in PJM wholesale markets. Continue Reading AEE Requests Declaratory Rulings on Federal Preemption for Energy Efficiency Resources in FERC-Regulated Markets

Originally posted here on Troutman Sanders’ Environmental Law & Policy Monitor

by Randy Brogdon, Peter Glaser, Margaret Campbell, Mack McGuffey or Andy Flavin.

In the Rose Garden of the White House, President Trump fulfilled a key campaign promise last week by confirming that the United States will begin withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement (“Agreement”).  President Trump cited the Agreement’s potential financial and economic burdens as a reason for the withdrawal. Continue Reading U.S. to Withdraw from Paris Climate Deal

By: Stuart Caplan, Brian Harms and Emily Prince

In a speech last month, Energy Secretary Rick Perry stated that the Department of Energy (“DOE”) may need to “intervene” in state renewable energy policies to protect grid security and reliability. Secretary Perry made the statement to energy industry stakeholders at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit on April 25, 2017. In early April, Secretary Perry ordered a DOE study to determine the extent wholesale market structures, energy mandates, federal policy and tax subsidies are affecting long-term grid reliability. Secretary Perry suggested that the DOE was concerned by ongoing baseload generating facility retirements stimulated in part by pressure on utilities to meet renewable portfolio standard (“RPS”) benchmarks. During a question and answer session, Secretary Perry stated that increased reliance on intermittent renewable energy sources makes the grid unreliable, which ultimately creates a concern for national security. Continue Reading Trump Administration Considers Preemption of State Renewable Policies

On May 16, 2017, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed Executive Directive 11, which instructs the Department of Environmental Quality to propose regulations that “abate, control, or limit carbon dioxide emissions” from electric power facilities to the State Air Pollution Control Board no later than December 31, 2017. ED 11 requires the regulations to include provisions that allow for (1) “the use of market-based mechanisms and the trading of carbon dioxide allowances through a multi-state trading program” and (2) “abatement mechanisms providing for a corresponding level of stringency to limits on carbon dioxide emissions imposed in other states with such limits”. For more information, please see the Utility Dive article here and the full text of ED 11 here.

On April 24, 2017, PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) submitted an amicus curiae brief in a legal challenge against an Illinois program to provide additional revenue for some of the state’s financially-struggling nuclear energy facilities.  The program allows eligible generators to generate and sell Zero Emission Credits (“ZECs”) and obligates the state’s utilities to buy a certain share of those credits.  In its brief, PJM argued that the program allows uneconomic generators to continue participating in wholesale energy and capacity markets, thereby causing “substantial[] harm” to the markets and other participating generators. Continue Reading PJM Files Amicus Brief Opposing Illinois ZEC Program in Federal District Court Challenge

On April 25, 2017, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”) dismissed Portland General Electric Company’s (“PGE”) and PáTu Wind Farm LLC’s (“PáTu”) petitions for review of FERC’s orders finding that PGE must purchase all of the power delivered by PáTu pursuant to their power purchase agreement (“PPA”) under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”), but that PGE was not required to use dynamic scheduling.  In doing so, the D.C. Circuit held, among other things, that: (1) it lacked jurisdiction to review FERC’s resolution of PGE and PáTu’s PURPA dispute because the orders were merely declaratory; (2) circuit court review of PURPA section 210(h) enforcement actions occurs on appeal from district courts; and (3) FERC’s Federal Power Act (“FPA”)-based regulations cited to by PáTu in support of its claim that FERC should require PGE to use dynamic scheduling only apply to the transmission customer-transmission provider relationship, which was unlike PáTu and PGE’s relationship. Continue Reading D.C. Circuit Dismisses PGE Petition for Review over PURPA Purchase Obligation, Denies PáTu Petition on the Merits

On April 13, 2017 the Energy Storage Association (“ESA”) filed a complaint with FERC, alleging that PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) had unilaterally implemented a series of changes to its Regulation market without FERC’s review and approval, in violation of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).  ESA contended that its members who participate in the Regulation market had “suffered significant and detrimental financial harm” as a result of PJM’s changes, and that ESA was filing its complaint “to compel PJM to give the Commission the opportunity to determine whether each of these changes are just and reasonable and not unduly discriminatory.” Continue Reading Energy Storage Association Alleges Changes to PJM Regulation Market Violate FPA