FERC Staff Report on High Voltage Transmission Development to Congress

On Friday, August 7, 2020, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) Staff sent a report to Congress examining the “barriers and opportunities for high voltage transmission.” FERC Staff prepared this report in accordance with the Congressional directive contained in the 2020 Further Consolidated Appropriations Act. 2020, Pub. L. No. 116-94 (Dec. 20, 2019). The report reviews the relevant studies, analyses, FERC orders and polices, and other regulations that have an effect on the construction and development of high voltage transmission lines in the U.S. [1] The primary thesis of the...
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Predictable unpredictability: stranded assets and the scope for disputes under PSCs

Summary In the current climate, many exploration and production companies are looking to reduce capital expenditure and to streamline their operations. They are also reassessing their demand and price forecasts and considering the impact on their balance sheets. In this article we consider how the desire of contractor parties to reduce costs on the one hand, and the wish of producing states to maximise returns on the other, has the potential to increase disputes under production sharing contracts, in particular in connection with the minimum work and expenditure obligations. An unpredictable...

FERC Finalizes Reforms to PURPA Regulations

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued Order No. 872 , a final rule that the Commission explains is intended to implement its statutory mandate to update rules promulgated pursuant to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”). [1] The rule will become effective in late November. [2] The changes generally restrict the ability of the owners of Qualifying Facilities (“QFs”) to access some of the more favorable commercial terms mandated by Commission policy previously in place for several decades. As background, PURPA...
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Trump Administration Publishes Final Revisions to NEPA Regulations

On July 16, 2020, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (“CEQ”) published its much anticipated final rule revising the regulations implementing the National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”). [1] Since taking office, the Trump Administration has sought to modernize NEPA and facilitate more efficient, effective, and timely NEPA reviews. [2] Since NEPA was enacted in 1970, implementation has become unwieldy and often does not serve NEPA’s purpose in informing decision-makers and the public. The Final Rule marks the first comprehensive revision of CEQ’s NEPA regulations since the...

Electric Transmission and Distribution Utilities and FERC COVID-19 Relief

On March 13, 2020, President Trump deemed the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States a national emergency as of March 1, 2020. [1] Due to the pandemic, certain electric transmission and distribution public utilities have experienced electricity demand that differs from projections. In addition, some state regulators took steps to provide relief to certain consumers. At the federal level, North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) issued guidance in March 2020 that it will consider the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic to be an acceptable basis for non-compliance with certain NERC...

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