On June 3, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit vacated an air permit issued by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) for the construction of a new compressor station proposed by Algonquin Gas Transmission as part of its Atlantic Bridge natural gas pipeline project and remanded the matter to the agency for further analysis. Town of Weymouth v. Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, et al., No. 19-1794 (Jun. 3, 2020). In reviewing the agency’s decision, the First Circuit concluded that the DEP’s Best Available Control Technology (BACT) analysis was inadequate because the Agency failed to undertake its own independent analysis of the cost-effectiveness of the various options of controlling air emissions and instead relied on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) analysis. The court also decided several other environmental arguments raised by the Town of Weymouth and other petitioners in favor of the DEP, including environmental justice and noise concerns, among other issues, which are addressed in a
Data Collection for Analytics and Surveillance and Market-Based Rate Purposes,
Order No. 860, 168 FERC ¶ 61,039 (2019).
On July 18, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) issued a final rule which will have impacts on new market-based rate applications, as well as companies which currently have such authorization. Under this rule, companies which currently hold market-based rates, as well as new applicants, will need to submit data into a relational database regarding their affiliates, and will need to keep such data updated. This will add a new compliance obligation to companies, and will require closer monitoring of active and passive investors in a project.
Following up on the 2016 series of Notices of Proposed Rulemaking, the Commission issued a final rule, adopting its proposal to collect market-based rate information in a relational database, but declining to require entities, including those holding market-based rates (“Sellers”) and those who transact in virtual energy and
On April 17, 2018, the five Commissioners of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) testified before the House Energy Subcommittee in a hearing titled “Oversight of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and FY2019 Budget.” Chairman Kevin McIntyre, along with Commissioners Cheryl LaFleur, Neil Chatterjee, Robert Powelson and Richard Glick discussed a number of topics ranging from cyber security and grid resiliency to baseload resources, removing barriers to entry for energy storage, review of the pipeline approval process, as well as potential modifications to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”) and the Federal Power Act (“FPA”).
Key topics and takeaways included:
- Tension between state energy policies and wholesale electricity markets. Chairman McIntyre commented that finding a balance between state energy policies and FERC’s jurisdiction over the wholesale markets is one of the trickiest areas the Commission faces. He explained that states have the authority to prefer certain energy resources, and FERC has the obligation to ensure that electricity generated by these resources is
Can an interstate natural gas pipeline continue to operate if a court vacates its certificate authorizations?
On January 31, 2018, in Sierra Club v. FERC, No. 16-1329 (D.C. Cir.), the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denied rehearing and rehearing en banc (before the full court) of petitions for rehearing filed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) and jointly by Duke Energy Florida, Florida Power & Light, Florida Southeast Connection, Sabal Trail Transmission, and Transcontinental Gas Pipe Line (the “Supporting Intervenors”). The court’s orders raise the possibility that the court will issue its mandate and vacate FERC’s orders granting certificates of public convenience and necessity authorizing the construction and operation of the Florida Southeast Connection pipelines, which are currently transporting natural gas to power plants in Florida. If the court issues the mandate, FERC and the pipeline operators will be faced with whether, and if so how, the pipelines can continue
Welcome to the Energy Infrastructure Blog – EI Blog, for short – Pierce Atwood’s new blog that will provide information and analysis on the key policy and legal issues relevant to energy infrastructure policy, development, and finance in New England and beyond. Pierce Atwood has assembled a team of legal practitioners from diverse practice areas who focus on all aspects of developing, buying, and selling energy infrastructure projects, and who also recognize that understanding both the fundamentals and trends in this ever-changing area is essential for developers, investors, policymakers, and interested members of the public. We look forward to sharing our insights with you.
Why an energy infrastructure blog – and why now?
We may not always think about it, but the mixed generation fleets, as well as the electricity transmission and distribution network that “keep the lights on” throughout New England are integral parts of everyone’s everyday lives. Policymakers, lawyers, and