Following up on our recent blog post regarding the Seventh Circuit’s decision to uphold Illinois’ nuclear subsidy program, two weeks later on September 27, 2018, the Second Circuit upheld a district court’s decision finding that New York’s nuclear subsidy program was not preempted by the Federal Power Act (Coalition for Competitive Electricity, et al.
Seventh Circuit Upholds Illinois’ ZEC Program and Leaves the Door Open for State Subsidization of Generation
On September 13, 2018, in Electric Power Supply Association v. Star (Case No. 17-2433 and 17-2445), the Seventh Circuit upheld a district court decision finding that Illinois’ zero emissions credit (ZEC) program (i.e., its nuclear subsidy) was not preempted by the Federal Power Act. With this decision, the Seventh Circuit adopted a narrow reading of the Supreme Court’s decision in Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing, LLC (136 S. Ct. 1288 (2016)) (Hughes) (which struck down a Maryland generation subsidy program that required participation in the PJM capacity auction) and left the door open for states to subsidize generation of their choosing (as long as the state is not directly setting the wholesale market price). Thus, in subsidizing generation, states may achieve indirectly what they are prevented from ordering directly.
Under the Illinois program, certain nuclear generators in Illinois (i.e., Exelon’s Quad Cities and Clinton nuclear facilities) receive ZECs (initially priced at $16.50 per MWh) for each MWh of electric energy they produce. The price of a ZEC will drop if an Illinois-set market-price index (based on the annual average energy prices in the PJM auction and two of the state’s regional energy markets) exceeds $31.40 per MWh. The Illinois program does not require that the nuclear facilities participate in the PJM capacity auction (although it is acknowledged that the nuclear generators will very likely be participating in the PJM capacity auction). Illinois’ nuclear subsidy program was challenged by an association representing electricity producers and several municipalities.
Jurisdiction over the power sector is divided between the federal government and the states. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has jurisdiction over wholesale power sales in interstate commerce, while the states have jurisdiction over retail power sales and generation facilities. State regulation of whole power sales would be preempted by the Federal Power Act, but the courts are still deciding where exactly the line between federal and state jurisdiction lies.
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FERC Brushes Away Secretary Perry’s “Resiliency” NOPR, Finding It Legally Deficient
In a move that was widely anticipated across the energy industry, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) today issued an order that terminated a notice of proposed rulemaking that had been initiated in October 2017 in response to a demand by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that FERC enact rules to compensate certain resources for what…
When the Big One Hits, We’ll All Be Thankful for Grid “Resiliency”
Or so Secretary Rick Perry and the DOE would have us believe. Approximately three weeks ago, the DOE made its pitch to FERC and the energy industry that a lack of “resiliency” threatens the U.S. power grid. The responses are in. And the shock and bewilderment that immediately followed the release of the Secretary’s surprising…
DOE Directs FERC to Enact Special Compensation Rule for Coal Power
By a notice issued yesterday, September 28, Rick Perry, the Secretary of Energy, utilized section 403 of the DOE Act to require FERC to cause organized energy market operators (ISOs/RTOs) to compensate “fuel secure generation”, i.e., coal power, for grid “resiliency”–something that apparently puts Americans at risk despite statements by NERC to the contrary or…
Another Court Upholds a State Generation Program and Dismisses Challenges to Illinois’ Nuclear Subsidies
On July 14, 2017, and several weeks after the Second Circuit rejected challenges to Connecticut’s renewable energy procurement process and renewable energy credit program (see Allco Fin. Ltd. v. Robert J. Klee (Docket Nos. 16-2946, 16-2949)), the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois dismissed challenges brought by independent power producers and customers against Illinois’ nuclear subsidy program (Village of Old Mill Creek v. Anthony M. Star, Docket Nos. 17 CV 1163, 17 CV 1164). This Illinois decision further support the authority of states to promote generation of their choosing and represents another narrow reading of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Hughes v. Talen Energy (136 S. Ct. 1288 (2016)).
In the state program at issue in Old Mill Creek, Illinois created a “zero emission credit” (ZEC), a tradeable credit (modeled after a renewable energy credit) which represents the environmental attributes of one megawatt hour of energy from specified zero emission facilities (in this case, selected nuclear power plants interconnected with the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) or PJM Interconnection (PJM)). The effective purpose of this program is to subsidize Exelon’s Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear facilities in Illinois, which Exelon had threatened to shut down if it did not receive government support.
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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
Administrative Law Judge Recommends 4.7 Percent Increase for Xcel Energy’s Minnesota Customers
On July 8, 2013, Xcel Energy Inc., submitted a filing with the SEC detailing an Administrative Law Judge’s decision in a pending electric rate case in Minnesota and calculating the decision’s impact on one of its subsidiaries. In November 2012, Northern States Power Company (NSP), a wholly owned subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc., petitioned the Minnesota…
LexisNexis Selects Renewable + Law Blog to its Top 50 Environmental Law Blogs List
Having first reported to our readers in February that LexisNexis had nominated the Stoel Rives Renewable + Law Blog for its Top 50 Environmental Law & Climate Change Blogs for 2011 award, we are pleased to announce we made the list of winners! In publishing its Top 50 list, LexisNexis declared that our Renewable + …
Tradable RECs Now Count Toward California’s RPS
On Thursday March 11, 2010, the California Public Utility Commission (the "CPUC") created a market for tradable renewable energy credits ("TRECs") in the state. That’s big news. In its 149-page decision, the CPUC stated that investor-owned utilities ("IOUs"), energy service providers, and community choice aggregators may now use TRECs to comply with California’s ambitious renewable portfolio standard ("RPS"). These entities are now permitted to purchase a portion of their RPS compliance from generation sources other than those they own (e.g., distributed solar generation facilities within the state and certain out-of-state facilities).
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