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The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) has announced plans to hold a two-day technical conference on July 8-9, 2020 regarding the ongoing impacts that the emergency conditions caused by COVID-19 are having on the United States’ energy industry.  FERC’s stated objective is to ensure the continued functioning of energy markets, electricity transmission, transportation of natural gas and oil and energy infrastructure reliability.
Continue Reading FERC Plans Conference on COVID-19 Impacts

As described in an earlier post to this blog, the Commerce Department initiated an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 into whether “laminations for stacked cores for incorporation into transformers, stacked and wound cores for incorporation into transformers, electrical transformers, and transformer regulators are being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security.”
Continue Reading National Security Tariff Investigation of Steel-Based Components of Electrical Transformers: Comment Dates Set

The Department of Energy proposes to no longer subject LNG exports to evaluation under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).  According to a recent Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR), DOE says that the only source of potential environmental impacts within its authority to review are those associated with transporting natural gas by ship, and those shipments qualify for categorical exclusion from NEPA review.
Continue Reading DOE Proposes to Stop Evaluating Environmental Impacts of LNG Exports

A diverse group of stakeholders filed a request with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to convene a public conference to discuss integrating carbon pricing into U.S. organized regional wholesale electricity energy markets.  The group says it is not asking FERC to direct carbon pricing but instead to gather a wide range of stakeholders to discuss the technical and implementation issues raised by incorporating carbon pricing policies into the organized wholesale markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs).
Continue Reading FERC Carbon Pricing Conference Urged

The wheels continue to turn with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (“NHTSA”) efforts to modernize vehicle safety standards, including for connected and automated vehicles (“CAVs”).  Most recently, NHTSA issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NPRM”), seeking public comment on its endeavors “to improve safety and update rules that no longer make sense” for certain CAVs, “such as requiring manual driving controls on autonomous vehicles.”  According to NHTSA, the NPRM is a “[h]istoric first step for the agency to remove unnecessary barriers to motor vehicles equipped with automated driving systems” (“ADS”).
Continue Reading IoT Update: NHTSA Continues to Ramp Up Exploration of Automated Driving Technologies

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has announced two conferences to address issues raised by the increasing deployment of electric storage resources and their use in electricity markets.  One conference will address a proposal by a Regional Transmission Operator (RTO) to treat an electric storage facility as a transmission-only resource if it can resolve specific transmission issues.  The second conference will discuss issues raised by hybrid resources, i.e., a storage resources paired with a generation resources.  These conferences should be of interest to a wide range of electricity market participants, including utilities, generation companies, customers and investors in storage and other electricity resources.
Continue Reading FERC Conferences to Address Electric Storage Issues

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has proposed substantial changes to its policies for awarding ratemaking incentives for new transmission investment.  The most fundamental change is that FERC would no longer award incentives based on a proposed project’s risks and challenges but would instead award them based on its economic and reliability benefits.  In addition, the incentive for a higher return on equity for project investment would be potentially more generous than under the current policy.  FERC’s proposal should be of interest to utilities, transmission-only companies, market participants who pay transmission rates, customers and investors interested in developing transmission projects.
Continue Reading FERC Considering Changes to Transmission Incentives

The Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO), a Regional Transmission Organization (RTO), has proposed to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) tariff provisions that would treat electric storage facilities as transmission-only facilities if they provide the preferred solution to a transmission issue in MISO’s regional planning process.  This is the first such proposal by a wholesale electric market operator.  Up to now, storage facility requests to qualify as transmission facilities have been few and case-specific.  Treatment as a transmission resource provides additional deployment opportunities for storage resources and allows them cost recovery through cost-based transmission rates instead of relying on energy market revenues.  Standardized tariff-based terms and conditions for qualifying as a transmission resource should provide an easier path to such treatment.
Continue Reading Proposal to Treat Electric Storage as Transmission Now Before FERC

The Department of Energy (“DOE”) is proposing to extend to December 31, 2050 the standard twenty-year term for authorizations to export natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. lower-48 states.  According to DOE, the longer term would better match the operational life of LNG export facilities, provide more security in their financing, and maximize the ability to contract for exports.  This change in DOE policy will be of interest to gas and LNG export authorization holders and their counterparties in sales contracts, and to proposed export applicants that are now seeking or will seek such authorizations from DOE.
Continue Reading DOE Proposes to Lengthen LNG Export Terms

This month, situated among foldable tablet computers and flying taxis, the U.S. Secretary for Transportation, Elaine Chao, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show (“CES”) the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (“DOT”) long-anticipated fourth round of automated vehicles guidance, “AV 4.0.”  Formally entitled, “Ensuring American Leadership in Automated Vehicle Technologies,” AV 4.0 is less regulatory guidance and more regulatory aggregator.  The document lists in great detail the various Administration efforts—across 38 federal departments and agencies—geared toward promoting, supporting, and providing accountability for users and communities with respect to autonomous mobility.
Continue Reading IoT Update: DOT Introduces Fourth Round of Automated Vehicles Guidance (AV 4.0)