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Bud Earley, a non-lawyer senior advisor, provides analysis and advice on a wide range of federal and state energy regulatory issues, including transaction and rate issues, regional transmission organization (RTO) tariffs and rules, interconnection, retail choice and demand response for electricity customers, a natural gas pipelines and hydroelectric facility licenses, and LNG export authorizations.

Working with Covington teams, Mr. Earley has provided expert advice and analysis to investment firms, utilities, independent power producers, project developers, customers, marketers and U.S. and international energy companies,

Prior to joining Covington, Mr. Earley served for over 30 years in various staff positions at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). While at the FERC, Mr. Earley was instrumental in developing and applying policies regarding the transition of the electric utility industry to competition, including policies regarding independent power producers, transmission access, standard generator interconnection procedures, organized electricity markets, mergers and market-based rates.

Driven by the entry of renewable generation resources locating far from load centers and the new demands placed on the grid by their differing characteristics, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) launched a comprehensive review of its policies regarding regional transmission planning, interconnection and cost-allocation.  In an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANOPR), the agency requested public comments on its current policies and offered potential areas for reform with a view toward anticipated future generation.  According to FERC Chairman Richard Glick, “(a) piecemeal approach to expanding the transmission system is not going to get the job done. We must take steps today to build the transmission that tomorrow’s new generation resources will require.”
Continue Reading FERC Reviewing Rules for Grid of the Future

In a recent order, FERC pulled back, for now, its decision to sharply limit the ability of retail regulators to prohibit distributed energy resource (DER) aggregators from bidding retail customer demand response (DR) into wholesale markets.  Instead, the issue will be considered in  an ongoing inquiry that is addressing whether to totally eliminate the ability of retail regulators to keep retail DR resource offers out of FERC-jurisdictional wholesale markets.
Continue Reading FERC Reconsidering Limits On Retail Regulator Control Over Aggregating Demand Response

In two recent certificate orders issued on May 20, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) did not assess the significance of the greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions of natural gas pipeline projects in terms of their contribution to climate change. This seems to be a step back from a March, 2021 order, which indicated that FERC would consider the significance of natural gas emissions in the context of a certificate involving pipeline replacement facilities, but reflects an unusual last-minute compromise reached during an open meeting in order to gain sufficient votes to approve the certificates.
Continue Reading FERC Policy on GHG Impact of Gas Pipelines on Climate Still in Flux

FERC recently took two actions regarding its transmission rate incentives policies.  FERC proposed to scale back an earlier proposed increase in the return on equity (ROE) premium allowed in the rates of transmission owners that join Transmission Organizations such as RTOs/ISOs and proposed to clamp limits on its term.  The Commission also scheduled a workshop to address performance-based incentives for transmission technology deployment.  Both actions were taken in the context of a March 2020 Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) aimed at, in part, awarding rate incentives for certain beneficial transmission investments.
Continue Reading FERC Focusing On Electric Transmission Incentives

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has for the first time ruled on whether the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted during the construction and operation of a proposed natural gas pipeline has a significant impact on climate change in determining whether to authorize a project as consistent with public convenience and necessity under Section 7 of the Natural Gas Act.  In earlier orders, FERC concluded that it was unable to assess the significance of a project’s GHG emissions or those emissions’ contribution to climate change.  In a recent order approving Northern Natural Gas Company’s proposal to replace a pipeline segment, FERC stated that is no longer the case and then assesses the significance of the project’s GHG emissions and their contribution to climate change.
Continue Reading FERC Assesses Impact of Pipeline Project’s GHG Emissions On Climate Change

In  two recent orders, the Federal Regulatory Energy Commission (FERC) continued its push to enable distributed energy resource (“DER”) aggregators to compete in organized wholesale electricity markets.  DERs are located on the distribution system or behind the customer meter, and include electric storage resources, intermittent generation, distributed generation, demand response, energy efficiency, thermal storage, and electric vehicles and their charging equipment.  Aggregators may aggregate multiple small DERs as a single resource to compete in the market.
Continue Reading FERC Upholds Rule Opening Electricity Markets to Distributed Resource Aggregators and Acts to Restrict State Regulator Interference

FERC has opened a proceeding regarding the shift from non-electric to electric sources of energy at the point of final consumption, such as to fuel vehicles and to provide heating and cooling, including process heat at industrial facilities. To that end, FERC announced an April 29, 2021 conference “to initiate a dialog between Commissioners and stakeholders on how to prepare for an increasingly electrified future.”
Continue Reading FERC to Address Electrification and the Grid of the Future

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has opened the door for fuel cell systems with integrated hydrocarbon reformation equipment to be certified as Qualifying Facility cogenerators under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA).  The agency adopted a final rule that amends the definition of the useful thermal output of a QF cogenerator so that such fuel cell systems may qualify.
Continue Reading FERC Rule: Some Fuel Cell Facilities May Qualify as QFs

In a recently adopted final rule, the Department of Energy (DOE) revised its National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) implementation procedures to include LNG exports by marine vessel within a categorical exclusion from NEPA review.  DOE finds that the only source of potential environmental impacts within its authority to review are those associated with transporting natural gas by ship, which DOE determined does not pose the potential for significant environmental impacts. Accordingly, LNG exports qualify for a categorical exclusion from NEPA review.  The new rule applies to new export authorizations as well as amendments to existing authorizations.
Continue Reading DOE Rule Sharply Limits Evaluation of Environmental Impacts of LNG Exports

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) that would allow certain Solid Oxide Fuel Cell (SOFC) systems to be certified as Qualifying Facilities under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA) and thus receive regulatory benefits meant, in part, to encourage the innovation and development of cogeneration facilities.  The proposal applies to SOFC systems that use heat and steam to convert natural gas to hydrogen, which then reacts with oxygen in the fuel cell to produce electricity, and then uses some of the heat and steam produced to continue converting methane into hydrogen to produce additional electricity.
Continue Reading FERC Proposes QF Status for Some Fuel Cell Facilities