Energy Law Update

A blog from the attorneys of Verrill

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Category: Utilities

Maine Law Court Holds Citizen's Initiative Cannot Block CMP's NECEC Transmission Line

Yesterday, the Maine Law Court deemed unconstitutional a ballot initiative to overturn the Maine PUC’s approval of the transmission line known as the New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC). The Court’s holding in Avangrid Networks, Inc. v. Sec’y of State , has potentially wide-ranging implications for Maine’s administrative and...

Recent Maine Legislation Triggers Amendment to PUC Consumer Protection Rules

Last year, the Maine Legislature enacted three bills requiring amendments to the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) Rules in Ch. 815: Consumer Protection Standards for Electric and Gas Transmission and Distribution (T&D) Utilities . Last month, on February 5, 2020, the PUC issued an Order amending Ch. 815, effective February...

Maine PUC Issues Report Analyzing the Costs and Benefits of “Public Power” in Maine

Last week, the Maine PUC submitted to the Maine Legislature its Report , authored by London Economics International (LEI), on the costs and benefits of requiring the State of Maine to take over Central Maine Power and Emera Maine and hire a private contractor to operate Maine’s electric grid...

First Circuit Acts on Appeal by South Portland Pipeline Company

On January 10, 2020, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit acted on the Portland Pipe Line Corporation’s (PPLC) appeal of the district court order upholding a South Portland zoning ordinance that prohibits the bulk loading of crude oil onto marine vessels. Portland Pipe Line Corp. v...

Maine Adopts Amended Net Energy Billing Rules, New Commercial NEB Tariff Rate

Recent legislation amending the net energy billing (NEB) rules to include a tariff rate program specifically for commercial customers and directing the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to procure distributed generation, has prompted a flurry of PUC rule changes in the past months. See P.L. 2019, ch. 478 (LD...

Beneficial Electrification and Natural Gas Bans in New Buildings, Affordable Sustainability

Electric Cars
Transmission and distribution (T&D) utility customers have often been understood to care most about two things: reliability and cost—usually, but not necessarily in that order. Climate change and the public’s interest in mitigating it, have begun to change that conventional thinking. The ongoing beat of public climate change advocacy...

An Interview with ME PUC Chair, Commissioners, and Former Chair

Sourced from Steve Mitnick, Public Utilities Fortnightly , "A Day (Two Actually) at the Maine PUC" (January 2019). In this posting, I summarize a recent series of interviews with the current Maine PUC Chair, Commissioners, and Chair Emeritus, Tom Welch. The interviews appeared in the January 2019 edition of...

At NECPUC: Takeaways from the Annual Symposium

At the end of May, Verrill Dana attorneys James Cohen , William Harwood , Geoffrey Why , Katie Gray, and Brian Marshall attended the 71 st New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners (NECPUC) Annual Symposium at the Cliff House in Cape Neddick, Maine. The conference sessions covered a...

Microgrids: The Next “Big” Thing?

There has been a lot of conversation lately about "microgrids." And, given the significant power outages experienced in Maine and the Northeast this past week due to extreme weather events, these conversations are bound to increase. But, what exactly are microgrids, and how can they help? Not everyone agrees...

Energy Startups: Opportunities, Challenges, & Considerations

In a presentation during Maine Startup & Create Week , Verrill Dana partner Jim Cohen , a utilities and energy lawyer with more than 25 years of experience, moderated a panel focused on the question, " How can tech disrupt energy? " With innovation and new technologies being developed...

How Can Tech Disrupt Energy?

On Wednesday, June 21, as part of Maine Startup & Create Week , Verrill Dana partner Jim Cohen , a utilities and energy lawyer for more than 25 years, will moderate a panel entitled " How Can Tech Disrupt Energy ?" Panelists include Ben Polito , president of Pika...

2017 Maine Legislature to Consider a Variety of Energy Bills

On Friday, January 6, Maine Governor Paul LePage released his biennial general fund budget for 2018-19. The Governor's proposed biennial budget and briefing document can be found here . The main priority in the Budget is reducing Maine's top income tax rate from 10.15 percent to 7.15 percent this...

MPUC Approves Northern Utilities’ Targeted Area Build-Out Program

Northern Utilities (d/b/a Unitil) recently received Maine Public Utilities Commission approval for a pilot Targeted Area Build-Out (TAB) program in Saco, Maine. The purpose of Unitil's TAB program is to remove the barrier of large contribution in aid of construction (CIAC) payments that new gas customers face when converting...

Beyond Net Metering: Solar Stakeholders Seek Common Ground

Solar Panel Install
Since September, solar stakeholders have been participating in regular work sessions at the Maine Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to develop an alternative to Maine's current net metering rules. Net metering or "net energy billing" allows utility customers who also generate some of their own power (with solar panels, for...

Washington Post on Electric Vehicles: Coal Generates Electricity

Last week the Washington Post exposed electric cars' dirty secret: they use electricity! The piece makes the astute point an electric vehicle (EV) is only as clean as the electricity that is used to power it. It is true that in many parts of the world that still heavily...

SolarCity’s Antitrust Case Survives Motion to Dismiss

When the Salt River Project utility in Arizona decided to impose new charges for its customers with rooftop solar installations in February , it opened another front in the solar war being waged across the country. Normally, these fights play out before state administrative agencies tasked with setting utilities'...
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