This blog is the nineteenth in our series, “The ABC’s of the AJP.”

Increasing grid-scale energy storage in the United States is a critical part of infrastructure development.  President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) would place investments in energy storage at the center of his goals of achieving a net-zero electricity sector by 2035 and making the electricity grid more resilient.  These investments would also support the Administration’s efforts to secure an end-to-end domestic supply chain for high-capacity batteries and the critical minerals that go into them.
Continue Reading Scaling Energy Storage Solutions and Securing Supply Chains

This is the fourteenth in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (“AJP”) seeks to assist the development of advanced nuclear power generation as part of a more general goal of developing advanced energy technologies. The AJP states that doing so will help the United States achieve 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035 and net-zero emissions by 2050.
Continue Reading Nuclear Power – Can Advanced Technology Make this Baseload Power Source be the Lowest Cost, Low Carbon Solution?

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 Department of Energy (DOE) adopted a new policy which extends the standard term for authorizations to export natural gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the U.S. lower-48 states to countries without a free trade agreement with the U.S. to December 31, 2050.  The standard term had been 20 years.  The new standard term will be allowed for current and future export authorizations.
Continue Reading DOE Extends LNG Export Terms

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

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)

Setting the return on equity (ROE) that utility stockholders may earn from providing certain services, primarily electric transmission and pipeline services, is a fundamental aspect of FERC’s cost-of-service regulatory regime.[1]  FERC has used the same basic method to determine ROE since the 1980s but recently made some reforms that applied to a few electric transmission cases.  Now FERC has issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking public comments regarding those reforms and whether reforms should also be applied to interstate gas and oil pipelines.

The ROE along the with debt interest rate is applied to a utility’s invested capital in setting the revenue to be collected by rates and is a principal driver of profitability.  By the same token, an appropriate ROE policy that balances both investor and consumer interests is critical to achieving FERC’s overarching mission of ensuring just and reasonable rates.  Accordingly, changes in the way FERC sets the ROE should be of great importance to energy consumers and to any company or investor with an interest in an electric utility, gas pipeline, or oil pipeline that is subject to FERC’s cost-of-service regulation.
Continue Reading FERC Considering Reforms to ROE Determinations

DOE’s authorizations to export natural gas, including LNG, from the U.S. impose reporting requirements regarding the destination of the exported gas and certain contracts regarding its supply and sales.  DOE recently modified one of those requirements in a significant way and proposed sharper guidelines for complying another to minimize regulatory burdens and reduce administrative uncertainty.  These changes in DOE policy will be of interest to LNG export authorization holders and their counterparties in gas sales contracts, and to proposed LNG export projects that are now seeking or will seek such authorizations from DOE.
Continue Reading DOE Drops “End Use” Requirement From LNG Export Reporting

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently acted in two separate orders to clear the path for small volume exports of LNG and allay concerns about the durability of its export authorizations.  In July, 2018, DOE adopted a rule to streamline its standards and process for approving small-scale LNG exports.  In a separate policy statement issued in June,  DOE put to rest industry concerns that it may rescind LNG export authorizations, stating firmly that it “does not foresee a scenario” under which it would rescind an authorization to export LNG.  For current and future investors in LNG export projects and their customers, these two developments appear to underscore DOE’s commitment to removing unnecessary barriers to LNG exports.
Continue Reading DOE Fast Tracks Small Scale LNG Exports and Provides Assurance on Export Orders