CPUC Adopts Pilots Aimed At Procuring DERs In Lieu of Grid Investment

On February 12, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued an order adopting two pilots to test two frameworks for procuring distributed energy resources (DERs) to avoid or defer utility distribution investments by the state’s three investor-owned utilities.  The first framework, coined as the Partnership Pilot by the CPUC, is a five-year pilot establishing a DER distribution deferral tariff with a tiered payment structure open to any DER customer type. The Standard-Offer-Contract Pilot, the second framework, is a three-year pilot that will offer standard offer contracts to in-front-of-the-meter DERs.  The adoption of these frameworks is a continuation of the CPUC’s effort to implement Public Utilities Code Section 769, which took effect in 2015 and requires the CPUC to, among other things, identify mechanisms for the cost-effective deployment of DERs that satisfy distribution planning objectives. Continue Reading

On Day 1, President Biden Creates Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases

The gears of the administrative state are whirling as President Biden refocuses federal agencies on fighting climate change.  Yesterday’s Executive Order on Protecting Public Health and the Environment and Restoring Science to Tackle the Climate Crisis (“EO”) shows just how seriously the incoming Administration views this reorientation, and it identifies a tool central to its strategy: enlarging the Social Cost of Greenhouse Gases (“GHGs”). Continue Reading

New EU SCIP Chemical Notification Requirements Enter into Force

As of January 5, 2021, all EU suppliers of articles containing a REACH Candidate List substance in a concentration above 0,1% must submit a notification to the European Chemicals Agency (“ECHA”).  The new notification requirement – so-called “SCIP notification” – may apply to virtually all types of “objects” supplied in the EU, and is an additional step in the EU’s implementation of its Circular Economy strategy.  It is intended to help ECHA create a database of articles containing particular hazardous substances that will be accessible to waste treatment operators, consumers, and public authorities. Continue Reading

FERC Rule: Some Fuel Cell Facilities May Qualify as QFs

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

DOE Rule Sharply Limits Evaluation of Environmental Impacts of LNG Exports

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

California Employers Must Comply with New Cal/OSHA COVID-19 Workplace Safety Standards

On November 30, 2020, emergency temporary COVID-19 workplace standards (“ETS”) issued by the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (“Cal/OSHA”) took effect.  The ETS, which requires stringent workplace protocols intended to curb the spread of COVID-19, applies to all California employers, other than those subject to the Cal/OSHA Aerosol Transmissible Disease standard or those with only one employee at the workplace who does not have contact with others.  Under the ETS, employers must adopt and implement a comprehensive COVID-19 prevention program that includes identification and correction of COVID-19 risks, employee screening, investigation of cases, use of face coverings and other protective equipment, exclusion of exposed employees, and provision of free COVID-19 testing in certain circumstances, among other requirements.  The ETS also mandates testing and other action when there are multiple infections or an “outbreak” in a workplace. Continue Reading

The CMA’s market study into the UK electric vehicle charging sector

On 2 December 2020, the Competition and Markets Authority (“CMA”) announced a market study (the “study”) into the UK’s bourgeoning electric vehicle charging sector. This blog post considers the scope of the study, and may be of interest to Electric Vehicle market participants across the supply chain. Continue Reading

The UK’s 10-point Green Industrial Revolution Plan

With the UK due to host the COP 26 climate summit in a year’s time, the UK Government is keen to set out its credentials as a global ‘green‘ leader and demonstrate not only that it can make good on its election promise to level up (with much of the promised Green Industrial Revolution investment being focused in old industrial heartlands in the North of England), but that it intends to seize the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to build back better and create a genuine green revolution. Continue Reading

Covington Experts Discuss Decarbonization Strategies in the EU and US at a Leading Global Sustainable Technology Conference

In October 2020, Covington public policy experts Sebastian Vos and Gary Guzy were invited to the 2020 CleanEquity Monaco sustainable technology conference to discuss the policy outlook in the EU and US, and likely impacts on efforts to decarbonize carbon-intensive sectors of the economy. The event was presented globally on EarthX TV.  Covington’s London-based emerging companies, corporate partner Simon Amies introduced the panel discussion and Washington-based environmental and public policy associate Lindsay Brewer moderated.  A link to the full discussion (including some content not presented at the conference) is available here and Monaco news media coverage of the presentation is available here. Continue Reading

FERC Proposes QF Status for Some Fuel Cell Facilities

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

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