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US power companies up lobbying expenditure; states seek CPP assistance

Q2: U.S. Solar and Wind Power by the Numbers

Essential Energy Insights - September 17, 2020

Essential Energy Insights September 2020

Rate case activity slips, COVID-19 proceedings remain at the forefront in August


US power companies up lobbying expenditure; states seek CPP assistance

Tide of energy legislation lifts US power lobbying expenditures

U.S.power companies and industry trade groups spent more on federal-level lobbying inthe first quarter of 2016 than a year earlier as lawmakers worked to pass majorenergy legislation and smaller reforms moved through Congress. Major U.S. electric utilitiesalso spent more on federal lobbying in the first quarter than the prior-year period.Southern Co. spent $3.42million, up more than 14% from the same time in 2015 and the most of the 15 biggestU.S. power companies by market capitalization tracked by SNL Energy, an offeringof S&P Global Market Intelligence.

EPA declines to redo rule allowing backup generators to run absent controls

The U.S. EPA has decided not to issue a new rule in responseto a 2015 federal appeals court decision vacating portions of a rule allowing backupgenerators to operate absent emissions controls for up to 100 hours annually. Theagency had asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuitto stay the mandate while the agency mulled over whether to issue a new regulationin the aftermath of the court's May 1, 2015, ruling. EPA agreed to a one-year stay,and now that the stay has expired without any further action by the EPA the agencyeffectively let the court decision stand.

Proposed revisions to eagle conservation rules could spur wind development

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service proposed changes to its ruleson eagle conservation that could make it easier for developers of wind power projectsand other facilities to hold permits that allow the "take" of bald andgolden eagles, potentially increasing the duration of such permits from five yearsto 30 years if a developer meets certain conditions.

Stakeholders to FERC: Put to rest long-running dispute over allocationof loop-flow fix costs

The time has come for FERC to issue a final ruling on an administrativelaw judge's more than three-year-old initial decision finding that the cannot assign the costs of phase angle regulators, or PARs, installed on its ownsystem to the New York ISOand the PJM Interconnection LLCwithout their consent, stakeholders recently told the commission.

AEP Ohio limits PPA rider, offers modifications after FERC ruling

AEP Ohio, the trade name of Ohio Power Co., has proposed a modified power purchase agreementthat omits generation owned by affiliate AEPGeneration Resources and reduces customer credits while "attemptingto salvage" its stipulation commitments. The American Electric Power Co. Inc. subsidiary proposed themodified PPA in an application for rehearing with the Public Utilities Commissionof Ohio following FERC's decision to revoke waivers of affiliate power sales restrictionsit previously granted to AEP and FirstEnergy Corp.'s Ohio subsidiaries. Meanwhile,FirstEnergy Corp.'s Ohioutilities have also asked state regulatorsto approve modifications to their generation rider while eliminating a power purchaseagreement with FirstEnergy SolutionsCorp.

States request Clean Power Plan assistance, mindful of Supreme Courtstay

Energy regulators from 14 states have written to the U.S. EPAto request further information and technical assistance on the Clean Power Plan,acknowledging the U.S. Supreme Court's stay of the rule. The states asked JanetMcCabe, the agency's acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation,for additional clarity and guidance on several programs and rules ancillary to theClean Power Plan.

Appaloosa calls for investigation of SunEdison's pre-bankruptcy dealings

David Tepper's Appaloosa Investment Ltd. Partnership I is pushingfor a wide-ranging investigation of SunEdisonInc.'s pre-bankruptcy conduct. SunEdison asked for an examiner afterit filed for Chapter 11 restructuring in New York on April 21, saying it expectedcreditors to request an independent review of "certain prepetition transactions."However, the company's motion has been criticized for attempting to control theterms of the investigation.

Ruling on Dominion complaint, FERC orders ISO-NE to clarify capacityauction rules

FERC partially granted a complaint filed by subsidiaries of allegingthat the ISO New England Inc.improperly disqualified new incremental capacity from participating in the region'sforward capacity auction for the 2019-2020 delivery year.

Calif. agency to seek recovery of $90M from PG&E for 2015 fire

A California agency will try to recover more than $90 millionin firefighting costs from PacificGas and Electric Co. for a lengthy 2015 fire in Northern California.The PG&E Corp. subsidiary,in a statement, said that based on a preliminary review it accepts "the report'sfinding that a tree made contact with a power line, but we do not believe it isclear what caused the tree to fail or that vegetation management practices fellshort."

Ariz. rooftop solar backers withdraw voter initiative to ward off opposingbills

Under the threat of Arizona legislative counterpunches, the Yeson AZ Solar political action committee agreed to drop its voter initiative to preservenet energy metering and instead enter negotiations with the state's utilities. Thesolar industry-backed initiative would have asked voters to amend the state constitutionto require utilities to continue providing retail net energy metering credits torooftop solar customers. However, the Senate was on the verge of passing legislationto put a second initiative on the ballot that would have asked voters instead toallow the commission to continue to set rooftop solar rates as the elected commissionerschoose.