Linda Walsh
Sylvia Bartell

In an in-depth and informative analysis on the Department of Energy’s recently released Staff Report to the Secretary on Electricity Markets and Reliability, Husch Blackwell regulatory attorneys Linda Walsh and Sylvia Bartell examine the department’s stated goal of considering past and current trends in the electric industry in an effort to “exercise foresight to help ensure a system that is reliable, resilient, and affordable long into the future.”

Linda’s and Sylvia’s conclusion?  While the report explores the directed topics identified by Secretary Perry, it does little to build on ongoing regulatory efforts at FERC. Further, it focuses on more short-term pursuits that are economically and environmentally questionable, while at the same time missing opportunities that would modernize the bulk electric power system for the longer term. Read their entire article on Law360.

 

 

As you are all aware, hurricane Harvey had a major impact on Texas and has left many residents without power.  On August 28th, in order to facilitate the monitoring of the effects of the hurricane, the PUCT opened PUC Project 47552 – Issues Related to the Disaster Resulting From Hurricane Harvey.  At today’s open meeting, PUC commissioners discussed this project as well as impacts the hurricane has had on central and southeast Texas.  During this discussion, Commissioner Anderson noted that he would like more detailed information from every entity affected by the hurricane.  Because of this statement, we urge you to maintain detailed information as to how the hurricane might have affected you and your provision of service.  Also, be prepared to answer questions from the commission and possibly ERCOT/TRE detailing any storm related damages or outages as well as how you have handled any damages.

Contract our Texas regulatory attorneys, Chris Reeder or Maria Faconti, if you have any questions.  We sincerely hope you have not been affected by the hurricane.

Last week, Wisconsin state legislators introduced a proposal to repeal the so-called “moratorium” on the mining of sulfide ore bodies (i.e., mineral deposits in which nonferrous metals are mixed with sulfide minerals) in Wisconsin. The state law in question was enacted in 1998 over concerns that sulfide minerals exposed during mining activities can react with air and water to form acid drainage which can pollute groundwater and harm lake and stream life.

The moratorium is actually a requirement that prohibits Continue Reading Wisconsin Legislators Propose to Repeal State Metallic Mining “Moratorium”

The month of August, 2017 has seen three distinct developments that may significantly impact management of “Coal Combustion Residuals,” or “CCR,” which include bottom ash, fly ash, boiler slag, and flue gas desulfurization materials generated from burning coal at steam‑powered electricity plants. Although one of these developments may provide a degree of regulatory relief, the other two may preserve or even strengthen existing regulatory requirements. Continue Reading The Shifting Landscape For Coal Ash

On August 2, President Trump signed new legislation which will impose new sanctions on Arctic offshore, deepwater or shale oil drilling projects which are partially owned by certain sanctioned Russian energy companies.  Previously, these sanctions only applied if the sanctioned Russian companies owned greater than a 50% ownership interest in the project and if the projects were also located within the Russian federation.  Now, the sanctions will apply to “new” offshore, deepwater or shale projects in which the sanctioned companies own as little as a 33% interest and will also apply to projects located both inside and outside of the Russian federation.  The United States Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) is required to issue new rules implementing these changes within 90 days.  A detailed review of the new legislation, which also includes sanctions against North Korea and Iran, can be found on our TMT Industry Insider blog.

In the July, 2017 issue of Rock Products Magazine, Husch Blackwell Senior counsel, Ali Nelson, writes about why aggregate producers should care about the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia order ruling that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers improperly granted an easement authorizing the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL). While the new administration may seek to streamline or even eliminate permitting or regulatory hurdles impeding development of natural resources, those opposing development may be even more aggressive in seeking court action to block or delay it.

Ali notes that the underlying caution may be that regardless of the creation of more “development friendly” permitting agencies, companies must be even more diligent in seeing that the agencies adequately document their decisions.  Read the full article on pages 50-51 of the July edition.

NOTE: An earlier draft of this update indicating that the FAA policy was still under consideration was inadvertently published last week. That draft was out of date and should not be relied on as a statement of FAA policies currently under consideration.

Changes to a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) policy concerning the issuance of Determinations of No Hazard to Air Navigation (DNHs) under discussion late last year would have had profound and potentially adverse repercussions on wind development projects nationwide. Fortunately, Continue Reading FAA Changes Would Have Disrupted Financing of Wind Development Projects Nationwide

In an article by Keith Goldberg of Law360, Husch Blackwell attorney and former FERC Chairman, Jim Hoecker, discuss the role of FERC Order 1000 in regional transmission planning.  He and other experts provide insight on how Order 1000 has initiated the long-term planning process but failed to spur the significant development necessary to provide regional electricity solutions.

While the Texas 85th legislative session began with the filing of several bills on a diverse range of energy issues, few had made it into law when the session ended on May 29, 2017. The House and Senate passed legislation that impacts wind generation facilities, electric utility rate-setting and the General Land Office’s retail electricity program. Bills that failed to gain traction concerned grid security, energy efficiency programs, and research and development.

Our Texas energy group issued a client alert detailing several of the bills.

Drilling_Roughnecks_(8744524276)There has been a tremendous amount of commentary and analysis recently about the dramatic increase in oil and gas activity and production in the Permian Basin, the SCOOP/STACK plays in Oklahoma and even the Eagle Ford Basin.  There has been much less written about how the “recovery” has impacted oil and gas activity in the Williston Basin in North Dakota.

Last Friday, the North Dakota Industrial Commission Department of Mineral Resources released its “Director’s Cut” which contains Continue Reading Oil Production Recovery Slow to Hit North Dakota