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Blog posts February 2017

Energy Update, January 27

February 14, 2017

In the States

NH – Eversource, New Hampshire’s largest utility company, filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court in hopes of overturning a ruling by the Public Utilities Commission to block the extension of a natural gas pipeline expansion project. Eversource estimates the pipeline project, known as the Access Northeast and Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline, would lead to “significant customer savings” while also decreasing overall operating costs. The project, which was to be financed in part by electricity ratepayers over a long-term contract, was disallowed by the PUC since an earlier court ruling stated “utilities can't pass on to ratepayers the costs of financing new natural gas pipelines.” Bill Quinlan, New Hampshire operations president for Eversource, said ““Expanding the supply of gas into New England is one of the necessary actions that must occur as part of the effort to reduce energy costs and ensure reliability. We believe it’s important that proposals like this one have the opportunity to be fully considered.” Eversource takes pipeline case to New Hampshire Supreme CourtThe New Hampshire Union Leader

VT – While showcasing the construction of a new solar power project in Montpelier called a Solar Canopy, Governor Phil Scott announced his support for the state’s existing renewable energy mandate requiring that  90 percent of its energy be derived from renewable sources by 2050. Governor Scott said the renewable energy goal contributes positively to his focus on economic development and “creates jobs that keep young people from leaving the state.” The Governor also maintained that local communities should play a greater role in determining renewable energy project siting, one of his campaign pledges. Solar Canopy, which was erected by Waterbury-based SunCommon, was founded in 2012 and employs about 70 people. "Companies like SunCommon, and many others who are creating jobs and innovating here in Vermont, are exactly what we need to reach these (economic development) goals," Governor Scott said. Vermont’s new governor sticking with renewable energy goalAssociated Press

WY – Six state lawmakers proposed assessing a penalty on utilities if they make use of wind or solar energy to generate electricity for their customers. According to the legislation, Senate File 71, utilities would have a year to comply with the measure, if enacted, and would be restricted to utilizing six resources to generate electricity. Additionally, the state’s utilities would have to derive 100 percent of their Wyoming-sold energy from these six resources, which include coal and natural gas, by 2019.  Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council, called the law unsound, noting “It would be very difficult to implement, difficult to regulate, since it goes against longstanding precedent to choose least-cost resources, and [since] it ignores the reality of a multi-state grid.” Bill would penalize utilities for wind-generated electricity for Wyoming customersThe Casper Star-Tribune

Federal and Regional

President Donald Trump selected Cheryl LaFleur to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an independent agency which regulates the nation’s power markets and pipelines, among other responsibilities under the Department of Energy. Ms. LaFleur, a Democrat and former utility executive, replaces Norman Bay, who has led the agency since April 2015, as acting chairman. “LaFleur’s appointment signals that Trump is hearing congressional Republicans’ complaints about FERC being too heavy handed to the markets,” said Katie Bays, a Washington-based energy analyst for Height Securities. Ken Irvin, a Washington-based partner at Sidley Austin LLP who represents energy marketers and traders, said “She has a very informed knowledge of the energy business and how to be an effective regulator. She’s very in tune with our markets.” Trump names LaFleur acting head of federal energy regulator – Bloomberg

Reversing a decision by his predecessor, President Donald Trump signed an executive order to construct the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines. President Trump, in so doing, promised to renegotiate the terms of the cross-border Keystone XL pipeline so the federal government can receive  a portion of the pipeline’s profits. TransCanada said it remains committed to building the pipeline, though noted it would still require approval from the states the pipeline crosses as well as the U.S. Department of State. Meanwhile, the Dakota Access pipeline, which has been the subject of numerous protests by environmental groups as well as the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, faces several legal challenges that allege the proposed pipeline poses a danger to the tribe’s water supply. Trump signs executive actions to advance Keystone, Dakota Access pipelinesPolitico

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