Has the Supreme Court frozen climate change litigation?
Wansheng Jerry Liu and David Restaino
The Supreme Court’s decision in American Electric Power v. Connecticut strongly limits private nuisance actions against greenhouse gas (GHG) emitters by keeping these cases out of federal court. But the AEP decision won’t stop lawmakers from enacting new GHG regulations, and it won’t prevent plaintiffs from suing emitters in state courts.
From EPAct to Order 1000, siting authority continues evolving.
Matthew J. Agen
Six years after Congress granted FERC “backstop” siting authority for electric transmission projects in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, the regulatory landscape is still evolving as a result of federal court decisions and new FERC orders. But despite a lack of certainty at the federal level, project sponsors have filed numerous applications at the state level for new transmission projects. Can these projects proceed without greater certainty at FERC?
Distribution management at the smart grid frontier.
The hype over smart grid has become focused on the idea of “advanced distribution management systems” (ADMS). But so far, few utilities have implemented ADMS beyond pilots and incremental tests. Fortnightly analyzes the technology trends and profiles examples of true ADMS in action.
(November 2011) Hitachi Power Systems America wins contract from Westar Energy; City of Fort Collins selects Elster, Siemens Energy, eMeter and Tropos GridCom to provide systems for its AMI project; Energate to supply smart thermostats for Oklahoma Gas & Electric; Jackson Municipal Electric Department selects Survalent Technology for a new SCADA system; Eastern Nebraska Public Power District Consortium selects ABB to implement an advanced smart grid-based SCADA; plus announcements and contracts involving EnerSys, S&C Electric, Siemens and others.
Generators fight back against EPA’s new regulations
Michael T. Burr
With a flurry of major new environmental regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is altering the power generation landscape. But will the new federal rules survive court challenges—to say nothing of next year’s national elections? Fortnightly's Michael T. Burr considers the controversy over new environmental standards. PLUS: Top Utility Lawyers of 2011.
Customers won’t join the team unless utilities make it worthwhile.
Michael T. Burr, Editor-in-Chief
Are utilities ready to really engage customers, and get them to care about more than just whether the beer stays cold? Or will we turn our focus away from customers, because we don’t know how to engage them — or how to convert engagement into value?
(November 2011) Exelon and Constellation announce post-merger executive lineup; Xcel Energy names new CFO and general counsel; Organization of MISO States elects new officer; plus senior staff changes at FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating, American Electric Power, Alterra Power, and others.
With looming mandates and aging infrastructure, utilities need regulatory support.
H. Edwin Overcast
NextEra Energy sells interest in gas-fired generating portfolio; Direct Energy acquires Texas retailer First Choice Power; Pattern Energy teams with Samsung to buy Ontario wind farm; plus bond offerings from Progress Energy, PG&E, LG&E, and others totaling $1.9 billion. The public policy rationale for the regulatory compact is more compelling than ever, as governments look to utilities to serve as instruments of public policy in such areas as renewable resources, conservation and efficiency, and environmental regulation. But utilities can't perform these functions if they can't recover their costs and maintain access to capital. The industry needs to restore balance to the regulatory compact in order for utilities to continue providing superior value for customers.
Despite market turmoil, state commissions refuse calls for an ROE boost.
Phillip S. Cross
(November 2011) Our annual survey of rate cases shows that despite volatility in financial markets, state regulators are holding utilities to a high standard for boosting their returns on equity (ROE). The latest data is added to Fortnightly.com's exclusive online ROE survey database, the largest free source of rate case information anywhere on the Web.
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