As the world struggles to adjust to the harsh new reality of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the most recent instalment of the Sixth IPCC Report slipped out almost unnoticed.  And that is worrying, since the assessment in this section of the Report is even starker than previous assessments – noting in particular that in order to avoid global temperatures increasing by greater than 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels, the world needs to halve its emissions this decade: a reduction that the world does not currently appear to be remotely on course to do.

However, whilst the IPCC Report and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are not linked, Russian aggression in Ukraine may serve as a catalyst to speed up the European energy transition and accelerate its retreat from dependency on Russian gas and exposure to volatile international oil markets, which could in turn deliver a more rapid reduction in European emissions.  In the process, perhaps setting the world on a path to achieving an outcome that currently seems unattainable.

Continue Reading The IPCC and The Ukraine Crisis

Two federal agencies recently released a joint Request for Information (“RFI”) in the latest in a series of concrete steps to meet the Biden Administration’s goal to achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE)[1] in federal operations by 2030.  The RFI, issued by DLA-Energy and GSA, offers industry a chance to shape future federal CFE procurements by providing information on carbon-free electricity supplied in competitive retail markets.  Although not itself a procurement opportunity, the information submitted under the RFI will inform the parameters and conditions of CFE competitions that the federal government expects to begin as soon as this year, with contract deliveries starting in 2023.

Continue Reading RFI Begins to Chart Course for Federal Clean Energy Procurements

This is the twenty-first in our series, “The ABCs of the AJP.”

President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) sets an ambitious goal of “achieving 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2035.”  To accomplish this, the AJP proposes significant investments in grid modernizationtransmission infrastructureoffshore wind, and energy storage, as detailed by our prior posts.  Whether these investments – carrots, if you will – will be sufficient to drive down emissions in all states and achieve the 2035 target, in the absence of an enforceable clean electricity standard (CES), remains uncertain.  Equally uncertain is the pathway for Congress to enact a CES.
Continue Reading Using Carrots and Sticks to Unleash the Potential for Clean Utilities

The European Commission has presented a package of key enabling legislation on sustainable finance (the “Sustainable Finance Package”).  This includes the much-awaited first technical screening criteria under the Taxonomy Regulation — outlined in the Taxonomy Climate Delegated Act (“TCDA”) — and a proposal for a Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”), which significantly revises and expands on the existing Non-Financial Reporting Directive’s remit and disclosure rules for corporates. While the former is directly aimed at financial institutions and investors, and the latter at large and listed entities, the package has broader implications for all corporates.

Sustainable Finance Package: Context and Comment

The Commission’s intention with its Sustainable Finance Package is twofold: (1) in the short term, to set a clear regulatory framework to encourage investments that will contribute to a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic; and (2) in the long term, to ensure the transition to a carbon neutral EU economy by 2050, in accordance with the 2020 European Climate Law.  Following the adoption of the EU Taxonomy Regulation (explained further below), the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation, and the Benchmark Regulation, which enhances the transparency of benchmark methodologies, the Commission has in this legislative package laid out the next building blocks for its envisioned sustainable finance ecosystem.

Continue Reading The EU’s Green Capitalism Takes Shape: Taxonomy Screening Criteria and Corporate Sustainability Reporting

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 FERC approved a final rule that will 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 will now be able to aggregate multiple small DERs as a single resource to compete in the markets, smoothing the way for many more of such resources to enter the wholesale market.
Continue Reading FERC Opens Electricity Markets to Distributed Resource Aggregators

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently signaled that it is exploring ways to improve the cybersecurity of the U.S. electricity grid.  On June 18, 2020, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) regarding whether some of its reliability standards regarding cybersecurity must be enhanced and whether the focus of its standards must change due to the threat of a coordinated cyberattack targeting geographically distributed generation resources.  On June 18, 2020, FERC also issued a staff paper that suggests a framework for providing incentives in transmission rates for cybersecurity investments.

These FERC actions may presage regulatory actions that could have material operational and cost implications for all grid participants.  Accordingly, FERC is seeking comments on both documents with deadlines of August 24, 2020 for the NOI and August 17, 2020 for the staff paper.  Major grid participants would be well advised to evaluate the NOI and staff paper and consider responding to FERC’s request for comments.
Continue Reading FERC Requests Comments on Grid Cybersecurity Initiatives

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has scheduled a conference on September 30, 2020 regarding carbon pricing in organized wholesale electricity markets.  According to the conference notice, the purpose is to discuss “considerations related to state adoption of mechanisms to price carbon dioxide emissions…in regions with FERC-jurisdictional organized wholesale electricity markets.”  This conference should be of significant interest to a wide range of market participants and their investors, plus consumers of electricity, state policymakers and other diverse interests.
Continue Reading FERC Carbon Pricing Conference Set

State regulation of net metering may be a thing of the past if a recent petition filed by the New England Ratepayers Association (“NERA”) with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) is granted.  NERA’s petition requests that FERC (1) find that there is exclusive federal jurisdiction over wholesale energy sales from generation sources located on the customer side of the retail meter (such as rooftop solar facilities), and (2) order that the rates for such sales be priced in accordance with the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) or the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), as applicable.
Continue Reading A Sale Is A Sale: NERA Asks FERC To Regulate Net-Metering