Bud Earley

Bud Earley

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.

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The Impact of Distributed Generation On Electric Utilities: How Big, How Likely and How Soon?

Technological advances in distributed generation and battery storage and their consequent falling costs have the potential to significantly change the electric utility business model and regulatory policies.  While change seems likely, there are varying views on its scope, probability and timing.  Two are presented here. One perspective is that fundamental changes in the way electricity … Continue Reading

Transformative Power Technologies: Do We Need Regulation 2.0?

As discussed in a previous post, new technologies — such as distributed generation, electricity storage, and digital control and communications — are making steady inroads toward transforming the traditional role of electric utilities and their relationship to customers.  The future transformed utility is sometimes referred to as “Utility 2.0.”  While integrating new technologies into the … Continue Reading

Evolving Role of Utilities: Indicators That New Power Technologies May Be Transformative

Many forces are converging to focus the debate on the evolving role of utilities, and events and trends are being closely watched by utilities, regulators and policymakers.  Just in the last week or so, a few developments indicate that new technologies are likely to be transformative. On the innovation front, the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory … Continue Reading

Some Light Shed on FERC’s Role in EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Amid concerns regarding the impact on reliability of EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan (“CPP”), FERC scheduled a series of technical conferences to discuss the impacts of state, regional and/or federal plans for compliance with EPA’s proposed rule.  Such plans could affect electric reliability, wholesale electric markets and operations, and energy infrastructure.  FERC recently held the … Continue Reading

FERC Conferences to Address Impact of EPA’s Clean Power Plan on Electricity Reliability and Markets

Further highlighting the breadth of potential impacts of EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan on our nation’s system of electricity generation and the difficult issues posed by the relation of EPA’s proposal to state and regional energy regulatory authorities, FERC has planned a focused dialogue around these issues. Some members of Congress and others have raised concerns … Continue Reading

Wholesale Electricity Market Developments in the U.S.

Significant developments have occurred recently in wholesale electricity markets in the lower Midwest and Western regions of the U.S. Earlier this week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a substantial expansion of the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).  SPP is a FERC-regulated Regional Transmission Organization that administers the grid across a nine-state footprint in the south … Continue Reading

FERC Exploring RTO/ISO Market Pricing And Operational Practices

At its recent public meeting, FERC opened a staff-led proceeding to address price formation and related issues in the RTO/ISO wholesale electricity energy markets.  Concerns with whether these organized markets are attracting appropriate levels and types of new generation capacity and the markets’ performance during last winter’s Polar Vortex have raised questions regarding their designs … Continue Reading

New York explores a “fundamental” restructuring of electric utilities

What is the structure and role of the utility of the future?  New York is initiating a regulatory process to begin answering this question. New York is considering “a substantial transformation of electric utility practices” to improve efficiency, empower customer choice and encourage greater penetration of clean generation and efficiency technologies, according to the NY … Continue Reading

New gas-fired and renewable generators stress natural gas infrastructure; more gas storage may be the answer.

Half of the new electricity generation plants added in 2013 are fired by natural gas and almost 30% of new generation is powered by solar and wind energy, according to an April 8 report from the Energy Information Administration.  This combination is likely to mean even more demands on the already-strained natural gas delivery infrastructure. … Continue Reading

Proposal: Manage Impacts of Clean Air Rules on Regional Bases

EPA’s current efforts to curb CO2 emissions from power plants are controversial due to their potential impacts on the cost of electricity and the reliability of the grid given the announced retirements of many coal-fired plants. The ISO/RTO Council (IRC), representing the operators of the regional electricity grids, has made two proposals for managing regional … Continue Reading

FERC Acts to Improve Coordination Between the Natural Gas and Electricity Industries

The increasing reliance on natural gas to fuel electricity generators has sparked a need for more coordination between the operators of gas pipelines and electricity grids. Up to now, markets and operations in the two sectors have proceeded independently, but some differences between them have become problematic. Differences are especially problematic in New England, where … Continue Reading

Regional Electricity Market Adopts Improved Design

On March 1, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), transitioned to a more sophisticated electricity market design that, according to SPP, is expected to realize up to $100 million in annual net benefits.  SPP is a FERC-regulated Regional Transmission Organization that administers the grid across a 370,000 square mile, nine-state footprint in the south central part … Continue Reading

New England Market Price Suppression Complaint Withdrawn at FERC

An earlier post discussed a complaint by the New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA) arguing that the inclusion of a large, high-cost generating plant in an upcoming  capacity market auction will artificially suppress clearing prices. NEPGA has withdrawn its complaint because the generating plant’s owner has decided to retire it and, accordingly, the plant will … Continue Reading

New England Market Price Suppression Complaint Draws Mixed Comments at FERC

An earlier post discussed a complaint filed at FERC by the New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA) arguing that one of New England’s capacity market rules “will have a catastrophic impact on clearing prices” in the  upcoming February 3 capacity market auction.  NEPGA’s concern is that a large, high-cost generating plant will be counted toward … Continue Reading

FERC Proposes Rules to Protect Electric System From Geomagnetic Disturbances

FERC has proposed to approve new reliability rules to mitigate the effects of geomagnetic disturbances on the bulk power system.  Geomagnetic disturbances (GMD) are caused by solar events and result in distortions to the earth’s magnetic field.  These disturbances have the potential to cause the sudden collapse of the bulk power system. FERC oversees reliability … Continue Reading

New England Generators Complain: Market Rules Will Suppress Prices

One aspect of New England’s capacity market rules “will have a catastrophic impact on clearing prices” in an upcoming auction according to a recent complaint filed at FERC by the New England Power Generators Association (NEPGA). The auction-based wholesale electricity capacity market operated by ISO New England secures one-year commitments to supply electricity three years … Continue Reading

FERC and Idaho PUC Settle PURPA Lawsuit

On December 24, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Idaho Public Utilities Commission (Idaho PUC) signed a Memorandum of Agreement addressing their dispute regarding interpretation and enforcement of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). PURPA requires that utilities purchase power from generators with certain renewable or other characteristics (called Qualifying Facilities, or … Continue Reading

FERC Approves CAISO Rule Change Designed to Avoid “Over Generation” Problems

FERC recently approved the California ISO’s (CAISO) proposal to lower a bidding floor to more efficiently address a growing “over generation” problem due in part to increasing “variable energy” (i.e., typically renewable) resources.  A bit of background is needed to understand the problem and the solution. CAISO operates two bid-based energy spot markets to secure … Continue Reading

FERC Marks 1,000th Open Meeting

FERC’s December 19, 2013 open meeting was its 1,000th, and the agency marked it with retrospectives from some of its former chairs. FERC’s first meeting was held in 1977, when as a result of the Department of Energy Organization Act, FERC became the successor to the former Federal Power Commission.  In addition to the FPC’s … Continue Reading

FERC Revises Interconnection Rules for Small Generators

FERC recently revised its rules for interconnecting small generation facilities (no more than 20 MW) to the grid.  Among other things, the new rules provide increased flexibility in qualifying for a “fast track” interconnection process, especially for solar and energy storage resources. Under FERC’s small generator interconnection procedures, a generator makes an interconnection request and … Continue Reading
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