As the United States begins to enter a warming period leading up to the onset of Spring, Bracewell & Giuliani’s Scott Segal, head of the firm’s Policy Resolution Group, takes a look back on the Polar Vortex – the bouts of severe cold experienced by much of the country in early 2014. In this video interview, Scott discusses the impact of growing shale gas resources on the energy sector, the key role that coal-fired electric generation played during the Polar Vortex, and what this experience of severe cold tells us about future energy policy and prices.
WE KNOW ENERGY®
Video Interview: The Polar Vortex and Energy – A Look at the Impact of Shale and Coal on Energy PricesMonday, March 10, 2014 9:41 am by George Felcyn
S. Becca Smith
As its latest step in a broader effort to prioritize cybersecurity, the White House released last week a list of possible incentives that may be offered to companies that own or operate critical infrastructure systems and assets to encourage adoption of a national Cybersecurity Framework, scheduled for release in February 2014. The list of possible incentives—which the Departments of Homeland Security, Commerce, and Treasury identified in response to a February 12, 2013 Executive Order—includes grants, liability limitation, public recognition, and cybersecurity investment rate recovery, among others. Some of the identified incentives could be created from existing federal agency authorities, while others would require legislative action from Congress. Over the next few months, agencies will seek input from critical infrastructure stakeholders in examining their preliminary lists and determining which to implement and how.
In the same February 12, 2013 Executive Order, the President directed the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), an agency of the Department of Commerce, to lead the development of a national Cybersecurity Framework to reduce cyber risks to critical infrastructure. The President called for the Framework to include a set of standards, methodologies, procedures, and processes that align policy, business, and technological approaches to address cyber risks, and directed NIST to incorporate voluntary consensus standards and industry best practices to the fullest extent possible. NIST released a draft outline of the Framework on July 1, 2013, and a full draft of the Framework is scheduled for release in October. (more…)
On June 4, 2013, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) posed data requests to each of the country’s Independent System Operators and Regional Transmission Organizations as part of its efforts to explore improvements to the coordination of the natural gas and electric markets. As natural gas has become the fuel of choice for more and more electric generating facilities, concerns have arisen regarding the reliability impacts of insufficient infrastructure to deliver needed gas supplies and other impediments to the seamless coordination of these markets. Over the past year, FERC staff has held a series of technical conferences to consider these issues. In April, FERC accepted a proposal by ISO New England Inc. (“ISO-NE”) to align the deadlines for the participation and commitment of resources in ISO-NE’s day-ahead electric market with the trading patterns in natural gas markets. (more…)
Although it may sound more like a threat in a summer science fiction blockbuster, this month the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) issued a final rule requiring the development of new standards to protect the power grid from the impacts of geomagnetic disturbances (“GMDs”) caused by solar activity such as solar flares (“GMD Order”).
Events like solar flares can expel huge masses of charged particles into space. If these particles reach the Earth, they can distort its magnetic field and cause low frequency geomagnetically induced currents (“GICs”) to flow along the oceans and surface of the Earth. As the GMD Order explains, because many transformers are grounded, these GICs may appear as electrical current to the power grid and flow “through the ground connection and conductors, such as transformers and transmission lines.” If this occurs, transformers and other equipment could be damaged leading to widespread blackouts. (more…)
The specter of enforcement actions by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is looming large over the energy industries. In the post-election flurry of FERC enforcement activity, FERC curtailed JP Morgan Venture Energy Corp.’s authority to sell power at market-based rates; opened investigations into the rates of two oil pipelines, Wyoming Interstate Company, L.L.C. and Viking Gas Transmission Company; settled with Gila River Power, LLC over allegations of market manipulation in the California energy markets; initiated an inquiry to improve price transparency in the natural gas markets; and initiated approximately ten audits of natural gas pipelines and other energy industry market participants. Buried amongst this industry-shaking deluge was the FERC Office of Enforcement’s 2012 Report on Enforcement.
In the report, FERC Enforcement stated it was going to continue focusing on last year’s priorities, which were: (more…)
Think geomagnetic disturbances are not relevant to you? Think again. On October 18, 2012, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) in Docket No. RM12-22-000 to address the potential threat of such a disturbance. Buried in footnote 24 of the NOPR is the potential cost, up to $500,000 per blocking device that may need to be installed on “each affected transformer.” Certain generator step-up transformers as well as certain transformers owned and operated by transmission providers registered to comply with North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) Reliability Standards may be subject to a future requirement to install such costly new equipment. A disruption to the Hydro-Quebec grid that occurred in 1989 was cited as an example of the harm that may be associated with geomagnetic disturbances. (more…)