Category: Regulation

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BREAKING NEWS: Xcel Energy Announces Commitment to Cease Coal-Fired Operations at Sherco Units 1 and 2

Xcel Energy announced this afternoon its intent to cease coal-fired generation at Sherco Units 1 and 2 in 2026 and 2023, respectively, while adding 1,200 MW of new renewable sources (800 MW of wind and 400 MW of solar) by 2020.  According to the Xcel Energy website, Sherco Unit 1 has a generating capacity of 680 MW … Continue Reading

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Determines Protection for Greater Sage-Grouse No Longer Warranted

In a speech at the Rocky Mountain National Wildlife Refuge, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced yesterday that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) will not list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Finding that protection under the ESA is no longer warranted due to an “unprecedented conservation partnership,” the USFWS announced that it was … Continue Reading

California Legislative Session Wrap-up

Last Friday, September 11, 2015 was the final day for California legislators to pass bills out of the Legislature and on to Governor Jerry Brown for consideration. This year’s crop of bills included something for both sides of the aisle on energy and climate change issues: from the proposed repeal of AB 32, the California … Continue Reading

Court Invalidates 30-Year Permit Provisions of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Eagle Permit Rule on NEPA Grounds

As we discussed in this post from May 2014, the American Bird Conservancy (“ABC”) in 2014 filed a lawsuit challenging the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (“USFWS”) 2013 revisions to its eagle permit rule, alleging violations of the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) and the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). ABC’s challenge related to the revised … Continue Reading

Gov. Dayton Signs 2015 Jobs and Energy Bill into Law

On Saturday, June 13, Governor Dayton signed the 2015 Jobs and Energy Bill into Law.  Our prior coverage of this bill can be found here and here.  The following amendments were made after the Governor’s veto: New definitions for “propane,” “propane storage facility,” and “synthetic gas.” New net metering provision that applies to cooperative electric … Continue Reading

MN Special Session Jobs and Energy Bill Posted

As a follow up to our prior coverage, Governor Dayton vetoed the jobs and energy bill that passed in the final few minutes of the 2015 regular legislative session.  Governor Dayton’s veto letter can be found here. After significant negotiations, the legislature finally posted a revised version of the legislation in its 2015 1st Special … Continue Reading

USFWS to Evaluate New Incidental Take Permitting Program Under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

Today, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published notice in the Federal Register announcing that it intends to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement to evaluate the effects of a program that would authorize incidental take under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (“MBTA”). Although the Service has MBTA regulations that authorize the issuance of … Continue Reading

Sprint to the Finish! Fast Work at the Conclusion of the 2015 Minnesota Legislative Session Results in Few but Significant Energy Policy Changes

In a literal sprint to the finish, the Minnesota legislature passed a bill, which included energy policy provisions as part of a Senate Floor Amendment, just seconds before the State constitutional deadline. Pertinent energy policy provisions were included in Article 3 of that amendment and are briefly summarized below: If the MN PUC orders a … Continue Reading

Governor Brown Announces New 2030 Greenhouse Gas Reduction Target for California

This morning, California Governor Jerry Brown announced Executive Order B-30-15, setting a target to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the state to 40% below 1990 levels by 2030. The 2030 target acts as an interim goal on the way to achieving reductions of 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, a goal set by former … Continue Reading

Jon Wellinghoff Joins Blogger Team at Renewable + Law Blog

Hi there, this is Jon Wellinghoff, former FERC chair and current Stoel Rives partner. I’m pleased to announce that effective today I have joined the Stoel Rives Renewable + Law blogger team. We thought it would be useful to share with you blog readers some of my thinking and writing on the topic of energy … Continue Reading

USFWS Publishes Northern Long-Eared Bat Listing Decision, Opts for Interim 4(d) Rule

In a long-anticipated move, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”)has published a final listing decision and interim rule on the northern long-eared bat. The Service listed the northern long-eared bat as threatened under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”), and, rather than publishing a final 4(d) rule, opted to publish an interim 4(d) rule and … Continue Reading

Rep. Garofalo Posts Bold Minnesota Energy Omnibus Bill

Late this afternoon, Rep. Pat Garofalo posted a bold and significant omnibus bill on the web page for the Job Growth and Energy Affordability Policy and Finance Committee of the Minnesota House of Representatives.  This author has not gone through the bill in detail, but calls out the following provisions as noteworthy based on a quick review … Continue Reading

MN PUC Approves First Minnesota Multiyear Plan, But Work Remains on Implementation

Yesterday, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (the “Commission”) met to address the first general rate case filed under section 216B.16 subd. 19 of the Minnesota Statutes. Northern States Power Company, a Minnesota Corporation, d/b/a Xcel Energy submitted the multiyear rate petition on November 4, 2013. In that petition, Xcel Energy asked for an increase in … Continue Reading

ALJ Recommends MN PUC Partially Disallow Xcel Energy’s $400 Million Cost Overrun on Monticello Project

Today marked the release of the highly anticipated report and recommendations from the Administrative Law Judge tasked with reviewing Xcel Energy’s handling of the life cycle management and extended power uprate (LCM/EPU) projects  The MN PUC initiated review of the LCM/EPU projects at the conclusion of Xcel Energy’s 2012 electric rate case after learning that … Continue Reading

Minnesota Community Solar Gardens Forecast: Partly Sunny with a Chance of Rain

Within days of its open on December 12, 2014, Xcel Energy’s Minnesota Community Solar Garden (CSG) Program had well over 300 MW worth of CSG applications submitted and by this writing nearly 430 MW.  The rush of significant application creates a question of “who’s in line first?”  That was the question before the Minnesota Public … Continue Reading

Initial Take: Xcel Energy’s 2016-2013 Integrated Resource Plan for Minnesota

Today, Xcel Energy filed its 2016 – 2030 Integrated Resource Plan.  Xcel Energy’s proposal is fairly significant in scope – it proposes to cut CO2 emissions by 40% by 2030, add new renewable and natural gas generating resources, and lay the stage for reforming the resource planning process conistent with its framework filing and proposals from … Continue Reading

Xcel Energy Submits Framework Filing in Response to e21 Report

Today, Northern States Power Company, d/b/a Xcel Energy, submitted a filing to initiate a discussion with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission regarding the recently released e21 Phase I Report (see our blog post here).  Key components of Xcel Energy’s proposal to begin implementing the e21 Initiative’s vision include: Lead the effort to achieve carbon reduction by 40% … Continue Reading

Minnesota Stakes its Claim as a National Leader on Energy Regulatory Reform with Release of e21 Report

Today marks the release of the highly anticipated report from the Minnesota e21 Initiative (e21 stands for 21st Century Energy System).  The Great Plains Institute assembled a diverse range of stakeholders, including utilities, ratepayer advocates, environmental advocates, and independent power producer advocates, to discuss regulatory reform in Minnesota to accomodate anticipated changes to our energy system.  The e21 … Continue Reading

To Need or Not to Need, that is the Question: MN PUC Answers in the Affirmative

On Monday, the MN PUC addressed whether ‘tis nobler in the pocketbook to suffer the slings and arrows of the MISO market or to invest in new generating units against a sea of uncertainty. As we noted in prior blogs, the MN PUC initiated the competitive process seeking bids to meet a claimed capacity need … Continue Reading

Energizing Discussion at Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Offices

I had the honor this morning to feature on a panel of experts convened by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal to discuss the topic of ”The Future of Energy.” Moderated by John Kearney of the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association, the panel included Kenneth Smith, President and CEO of Ever-Green Energy, Ken Bradley, Director of … Continue Reading

California PUC Comissioner Michael Peevy to Step Down

Last Thursday, longtime California Public Utilities Comissioner and President Michael Peevy announced he would not seek reappointment at the end of this year, when his second six-year term with the CPUC expires. In making his announcement, Peevy issued the following statement: “I originally planned to make the following announcement at the CPUC’s regularly-scheduled Voting Meeting on October … Continue Reading

MN PUC Affirms Path of Contentious Litigation for Externalities Value Determination

The MN PUC held a hearing on September 4, 2014, to address the impending investigation of social costs of pollutants under Minn. Stat. § 216B.2422 subd. 3 (known as externalities values).  First established in the late 1990s, the MN PUC re-opened the investigation in a February 2014 Order, focusing exclusively on PM2.5, SO2, NOx, and … Continue Reading