On April 18, 2024, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) introduced the Making Pipelines Accountable to Consumers and Taxpayers Act (“MPACT Act”) (S. 4171) that, if adopted, would grant FERC authority to order refunds under section 5 of the Natural Gas Act (“NGA”). Specifically, the MPACT Act amends section 5 of the NGA to give FERC authority to order a pipeline to issue retroactive refunds for charges FERC determines are unjust and unreasonable. The MPACT is intended to align FERC’s authority over the gas and electric industries and protect customers from unjust and unreasonable rates. At this time, a companion bill has not been introduced in the House of Representatives.Continue Reading Senate Introduces Bipartisan Legislation to Give FERC Retroactive Refund Authority Under Section 5 of the Natural Gas Act

On November 27, 2023, Troutman Pepper’s award-winning Energy Group published a white paper titled, Unlocking U.S. Transmission Upgrades – Are We On the Cusp of Real Progress?  The white paper offers perspectives from a range of transmission experts and examines the latest regulatory and legal changes that could lead to much-needed upgrades to the U.S. transmission grid.  Specifically, the report discusses why transmission grid upgrades are needed, identifies four main obstacles to upgrading the transmission system, provides solutions and benefits to overcoming these obstacles, and concludes with reasons for optimism for the future of the U.S. transmission system.Continue Reading Troutman Pepper Releases White Paper on Transmission Upgrades

On June 13, 2023, the House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy, Climate, and Grid Security held a hearing on the “Oversight of FERC: Adhering to a Mission of Affordable and Reliable Energy for America.” The hearing focused on reliability and the transition from fossil fuel generation to renewable resources.Continue Reading House Subcommittee Holds FERC Oversight Hearing on Improving Reliability Through Energy Expansion, Interregional Transmission, and Backing Renewables with Fossil Fuels

On December 15, 2022, FERC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) seeking to revise its regulations governing applications for permits to site electric transmission facilities under § 216 of the Federal Power Act (“FPA”). Specifically, the NOPR seeks to: (1) revise Section 50.6 of FERC’s regulations to reflect the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act’s (“IIJA”) amendments to the FPA § 216; (2) eliminate the required one-year delay before the commencement of FERC’s pre-filing process; (3) supplement the existing landowner and stakeholder participation provisions in Part 50 of its regulations; and (4) revise the timing of the required Project Participation Plan (“Plan”) in the pre-filing application process.Continue Reading FERC Issues Proposed Rule Implementing FPA Amendments in Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act

On August 30, 2022, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an order in NextEra Energy Capital Holdings, Inc. v. Lake, a case raising dormant Commerce Clause challenges to a 2019 Texas law that bans new entrants from building transmission lines that are part of a multistate electricity grid.  The majority reversed the lower court’s Rule 12(b)(6) dismissal of NextEra’s petition, thereby allowing the case to proceed to trial in district court.
Continue Reading 5th Circuit Holds that Texas Law Permitting Blocking of Competitive Transmission Owners from Building New Lines Violates the Commerce Clause

On November 5th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the more than $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the bipartisan infrastructure framework (BIF).  The Senate had already approved the bill back in August, and it now heads to the President’s desk for signature.  The BIF represents a core piece of President Biden’s agenda and provides significant funding for infrastructure improvements in energy and water, including over $900M in waterpower incentives for new and existing hydropower, pumped storage, and marine energy.  Additional spending is provided for dam safety and removal.
Continue Reading Infrastructure Bill Provides Opportunities for Hydroelectric Industry

In June 2021, Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced The Maintaining and Enhancing Hydroelectric and River Restoration Act of 2021, which would establish a tax credit for certain investments in dam safety and environmental improvements at qualified dams and separate tax credit to incentivize the removal of obsolete river obstructions, including nonpowered dams.
Continue Reading Senators Murkowski and Cantwell Introduce Bipartisan Hydropower Legislation

On February 26, 2021, FERC accepted a proposal from Entergy Services, LLC (“Entergy”) to amend a wholesale rate schedule, the Unit Power Sales Agreement (“UPSA”), subject to refund and set the matter for hearing.  FERC also instituted an investigation under section 206 of the FPA to allow customers to recover refunds associated with any further rate reduction, consolidated various related Entergy proceedings on accumulated deferred income taxes (“ADIT”), set a hearing procedure and held those procedures in abeyance pending the issuance of further FERC orders.
Continue Reading FERC Sets Entergy’s Proposal to Amend the Unit Power Sales Agreement for Hearing to Determine Whether Customers Should Receive a Bigger Rate Decrease

On March 2, 2021, members of the United States House of Representatives introduced H.R.1512, the Climate Leadership and Environmental Action for our Nation’s Future Act (“CLEAN Future Act”). The CLEAN Future Act, aims to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions by 2050 in concert with the target identified by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to limit temperature increases to 1.5°C in order to avoid the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. H.R.1512 is a revision of draft legislation released in January 2020.
Continue Reading House Introduces CLEAN Future Act – A Comprehensive Bill to Achieve A Net Zero Greenhouse Gas Economy by 2050