On October 8, 2015, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced that the District of Columbia (“DC”) government has reached a settlement (“Settlement”) in negotiations related to the proposed merger filed with the Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (“DCPSC”) by Exelon Corporation (“Exelon”) and Pepco Holdings, Inc. (“Pepco” and together with Exelon, the “Joint Applicants”). While the merger application remains subject to DCPSC approval, the Settlement is a milestone for the Joint Applicants in a regulatory review process that has proven to be contentious in DC.
Continue Reading DC Mayor Announces Settlement in Pepco-Exelon Merger Negotiations

On July 16, 2015, the California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) Board of Governors approved a new proposal (the “Proposal”) that will allow aggregated distributed energy resources to participate in the California wholesale energy market.  Under the approved framework, distributed energy resources, such as rooftop solar, energy storage, and plug-in electric vehicles, will be allowed to aggregate together to meet CAISO’s 500 kW minimum participation requirement.  CAISO stated that it will continue to develop supporting tariff language for the framework; it intends to submit such language to FERC for approval later this year.
Continue Reading CAISO Board of Governors Adopts Framework to Permit Market Participation by Aggregated Distributed Resources

On April 9, 2015, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) voted unanimously to assess Pacific Gas & Electric Company (“PG&E”) a $1.6 billion penalty for its role in the San Bruno pipeline explosion.  The explosion, which occurred on September 9, 2010, resulted in the deaths of eight people and injuries to 58 people, as well as the destruction and/or damage to many homes and city infrastructure.  The transmission pipeline was owned and operated by PG&E.
Continue Reading PG&E Fined a Record $1.6 Billion by California PUC for Role in San Bruno Pipeline Explosion

The Idaho Public Utilities Commission (“Idaho PUC”) is moving to take a closer look at the contract terms for power purchase agreements (“PPAs”) entered into between utilities and Qualifying Facilities (“QFs”) under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) framework.  The Idaho PUC has temporarily reduced the maximum contract term for QF PPAs from twenty years to five years for each of the regulated utilities operating within the state and is also considering whether to permanently reduce the term even further. 
Continue Reading Idaho PUC Temporarily Reduces PURPA Maximum QF Contract Term to Five Years; Considers Permanent Reduction

On September 8, 2014, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit (“Fifth Circuit”) upheld a rule issued by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (“PUCT”) which restricts Qualifying Facilities (“QFs”) that generate non-firm power from entering into Legally Enforceable Obligations (“LEOs”).  The PUCT had promulgated the rule as part of Texas’ implementation of FERC’s Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) regulations. The Fifth Circuit reversed the lower court’s finding that such requirements were inconsistent with PURPA, remanding for a further determination.  The Fifth Circuit also vacated the portion of the lower court’s order related to a specific PUCT order as lacking subject matter jurisdiction.   
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit Holds that Texas PUC Can Restrict Non-Firm QFs from Forming Legally Enforceable Obligations

On April 24, 2014, the New York State Public Service Commission (“NYPSC”) staff released a report and proposal (“Proposal”) that calls for a shift away from the traditional utility model of centralized generation, toward a more decentralized electric grid that relies increasingly on energy efficiency, demand resources and distributed generation.  As reflected in the Proposal, this shift would be accomplished by (1) making energy efficiency and distributed resources a primary factor in energy planning, and (2) revising the NYPSC’s ratemaking framework by improving incentives and removing disincentives for distributed generation.
Continue Reading NYPSC Staff Releases Proposal to Overhaul Utility Regulation

On April 18, 2014, the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota struck down Minnesota’s restrictions on importing new electricity from carbon emitting power plants in other states.  Among other things, Minnesota’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act (“NGEA”) prohibited any person from importing, or contracting for the import of, any new power from an out-of-state facility that would contribute to statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions without a corresponding carbon-dioxide reduction project.  The law effectively barred Minnesota utilities from importing additional power from coal-fired generation.  U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson ruled that Minnesota’s attempt to limit the importation of power from facilities outside of Minnesota imposed unconstitutional restrictions on out-of-state electricity producers in violation of the dormant Commerce Clause.
Continue Reading Federal Judge Strikes Down Minnesota Law Restricting Out-of-State CO2 Emissions

On September 19, 2012, the Board of Directors of the New York Independent System Operator (“NYISO”) released the 2012 Reliability Needs Assessment (“RNA”), a review of the reliability of the New York bulk power system spanning the ten year planning horizon from 2013-2023.  NYISO identified potential resource adequacy and transmission security issues that might develop during the ten year period. 
Continue Reading NYISO Issues Updated Reliability Needs Assessment, Identifies Potential Resource Adequacy and Transmission Security Issues