Seth Hilton

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Seth Hilton, a partner in Stoel Rives’ Energy Development group, focuses his practice on energy regulation and litigation, representing clients before a variety of energy regulatory agencies in California, including the California Public Utilities Commission and California Energy Commission, as well as in stakeholder proceedings at the California Independent System Operator. His clients include developers of thermal and renewable generation, energy storage developers, transmission developers, energy service providers, and investor-owned and publicly-owned utilities. Seth also represents energy clients in state and federal court and has significant experience in a wide variety of complex commercial litigation.

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Effective Immediately, California Energy Commission Jurisdiction Expands to Include Non-Thermal Projects Greater Than 50 MW

On June 30, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 205 (“AB 205”), which, among various other things, expands the siting jurisdiction of the California Energy Commission (“CEC”) to include non-thermal generating facilities, such as solar and wind projects, with a capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) or more.  The CEC’s siting jurisdiction was previously … Continue Reading

The California Public Utilities Commission Issues Proposed Decision on New Resource Adequacy Framework

On May 20, 2022, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC or Commission) issued a proposed decision (PD) that would, among other things, adopt Southern California Edison’s (SCE) 24-hour-slice proposal as the new resource adequacy (RA) framework applicable to load-serving entities (LSEs) under the CPUC’s jurisdiction.  Generally, the proposal would require each LSE to show that … Continue Reading

California Energy Commission Discusses Draft Report on Offshore Wind

On May 18, 2022, the California Energy Commission met to discuss its draft report to evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind to achieve reliability, ratepayer, employment, and decarbonization benefits and establish megawatt offshore wind planning goals for 2030 and 2045. The report is the first of three interim work products that … Continue Reading

California Makes Progress Towards Ensuring Electric Reliability for Summer 2022

On January 11, 2022, the California Energy Commission (CEC) issued an update to its Summer 2022 Stack Analysis.  Previously, on September 8, 2021, the CEC issued a revised Summer 2022 Stack Analysis that showed potential energy shortfalls ranging from 200 MW to 4,350 MW during the months of July through September 2022, in the evening … Continue Reading

California ISO Issues Straw Proposal in Interconnection Process Enhancements Stakeholder Proceeding

On December 6, 2021, the California ISO issued an issue paper and straw proposal (“Straw Proposal”) for its Interconnection Process Enhancements stakeholder proceeding. The California ISO initiated this stakeholder proceeding on September 30, 2021 with the issuance of a preliminary issue paper. The stakeholder process comes at a time when an unprecedented level of energy … Continue Reading

California Public Utilities Commission Takes Action to Prevent Outages During Summer 2022 and 2023

On October 29, 2021, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) issued three proposed decisions intended to address potential electric capacity shortfalls in 2022 and 2023.  The proposed decisions, if approved, would implement a variety of demand-side and supply-side policies designed to ensure that in the event of extreme weather during the summer of 2022 and/or … Continue Reading

FERC Approves Changes to CAISO Interconnection Procedures; Next Queue Cluster Application Window Not Scheduled to Open Until 2023

On September 24, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued an order (176 FERC ¶ 61,207) approving tariff revisions to amend the California ISO’s (CAISO) interconnection procedures for its current queue cluster (Cluster 14).  The CAISO had requested changes to its interconnection procedures due to the massive increase in the number of interconnection requests it received … Continue Reading

California ISO Survives the Summer with No Blackouts; Battery Energy Storage Beginning to Play Larger Role

The California ISO held its final Summer 2021 Readiness Update call on September 24.  As reported on the call, the California ISO managed to get through summer 2021 without any load-shedding events, in contrast to last summer, when load-shedding events occurred on two days in August.  The California ISO; California energy regulatory agencies, including the … Continue Reading

FERC Grants Limited Waiver to the CAISO to Immediately Interconnect Gas Turbines

In the wake of Governor Newsom’s July 30, 2021 Emergency Proclamation intended to mitigate the strain on the California energy grid, the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR) and the California Energy Commission have been reaching out to generation owners that could accommodate the addition of 30 MW gas turbines generators, an effort now referred … Continue Reading

CPUC Issues Net-Qualifying Capacity Values to Be Used for Mid-Term Reliability Procurement

In June 2021, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) issued its Mid-Term Reliability Procurement Decision, Decision (D.) 21-06-035, which directed load-serving entities subject to its jurisdiction (investor-owned utilities, community choice aggregators, and energy service providers) to procure at least 11,500 megawatts (MW) of net-qualifying capacity (NQC) for reliability for the period 2023 through 2026.  The … Continue Reading

California Energy Commission Adopts Expedited Siting Order for Energy Storage

The California Energy Commission (CEC) has continued its efforts to implement Governor Newsom’s July 30, 2021 Emergency Proclamation, which was intended to free up energy supply to meet demand during extreme heat events and wildfires, and to expedite the deployment of additional generation. The Emergency Proclamation authorized the CEC, which is responsible for licensing thermal … Continue Reading

California ISO Holds Summer Readiness Update Call for August

On August 31, 2021, the California ISO held its August Summer Readiness Update Call.  During the month of August, the California ISO grid faired well, as temperatures were more mild, and any hot weather was localized, rather than extending across the western United States. The California ISO also noted recent transparency improvements, including publication of … Continue Reading

California Energy Commission Holds Workshop on Midterm Reliability; Finds No Reliability Need for Additional Gas Resources

On August 30, 2021, the California Energy Commission (CEC) held a workshop on its Midterm Reliability Analysis and Incremental Efficiency Improvements to Natural Gas Power Plants.  CEC Commissioners Gunda and Douglas were in attendance, as were California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Commissioners Rechtschaffen and Houck.  CEC staff covered midterm (2022-2026) capacity needs, and potential thermal … Continue Reading

California Public Utilities Commission Ruling Seeks Comments on Preferred System Plan for 2022-2032

In docket R.20-05-003, its Integrated Resource Planning (IRP) proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission is considering its preferred portfolio of new resources for the next ten years.  A lengthy administrative law judge ruling issued August 17, 2021 set out a suggested Preferred System Plan (PSP) for the proceeding, including a suggested resource portfolio through 2032, … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Strikes Down California ReMAT in Winding Creek Solar Case

On July 29, 2019, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court’s decision in Winding Creek Solar LLC v. Peterman et al., ruling that California’s feed-in tariff for small qualifying facilities (QFs), the Renewable Market Adjusting Tariff (ReMAT), violates the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) (Ninth Circuit Case No. 17-17531). ReMAT … Continue Reading

Recent California Public Utilities Commission Decision Charts Path Forward for its IRP Proceeding

On April 25, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) adopted a decision (“Decision”) in its Integrated Resource Plan (“IRP”) proceeding, R.16-02-007. The Decision examined the first round of integrated resource plans filed by each of the load-serving entities subject to CPUC jurisdiction. The Decision approved the plans filed by 20 load-serving entities, found that another … Continue Reading

California Public Utilities Commission Opens Rulemaking to Consider Expansion of Direct Access

At its March 14, 2019 voting meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) voted out an Order Instituting Rulemaking (“OIR”) to Implement Senate Bill 237 (“SB 237”) Regarding Direct Access and to Consider Changes to Existing Direct Access Procedures.  The Rulemaking will address the expansion of Direct Access, as required by SB 237. Direct Access … Continue Reading

CAISO Proposes Second Set of Resource Adequacy Enhancements – Aims to Reduce Reliance on Resource Adequacy Availability Incentive Mechanism (RAAIM)

The CAISO recently issued Part 2 of its Resource Adequacy Enhancements Straw Proposal and stakeholders met with the CAISO this week to discuss the paper and get further clarifications on the initial skeletal structure provided. As part of the process, the CAISO reviewed the counting rules in other ISO/RTOs and found that most ISO/RTOs use … Continue Reading

Key Energy Related Bills Introduced in the 2019-2020 Legislative Session

The 2019-2020 California Legislative Session has reached its first deadline.  February 22, 2019 marked the deadline by which bills could be introduced for the first half of the Legislative Session. Lawmakers will begin Spring Recess April 12 and reconvene April 22.  The last day for bills to be passed out of the house of origin … Continue Reading

FERC Approves CAISO Tariff Changes re Generator Interconnection and Deliverability Allocation Procedures

FERC approved new changes to the CAISO tariff on February 19, 2019, with a retroactive effective date of November 27, 2018, that will impact projects in the CAISO’s generator interconnection queue. These changes are the result of a several month stakeholder initiative to enhance the interconnection process and follow a history of reforms intended to … Continue Reading

California May Need up to 2,000 MW of New Battery Energy Storage Resources by 2030, Commission Finds

On February 8, 2018, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) adopted a new procurement process in a decision which suggested that 2,000 MW of new battery energy storage resources may be needed in California by 2030. This means an additional 2,000 MW of storage on top of the existing 1,325 MW that is already required. … Continue Reading

Massachusetts Sets 200MWh Energy Storage Mandate

Massachusetts recently became the latest state to adopt an energy storage target, following California’s lead, and recent storage legislation in Nevada and New York. The Massachusetts storage mandate originated in the legislature last year, when the state legislature passed H.4568, which was signed by the Governor on August 8, 2016. The legislation required the state’s … Continue Reading

California Agencies Hold En Banc on Retail and Customer Electricity Choice

On May 19, 2017, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the California Energy Commission (CEC) held a joint en banc on customer and retail choice in California. In attendance were CPUC Commissioners Guzman Aceves, Randolph, Peterman, and President Picker.  CEC Commissioners McAllister, Douglas, and Chair Weisenmiller attended. The en banc was intended to address … 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
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