Released Aug. 3, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s final Clean Power Plan, designed under section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act, aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants by 32 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. One of the key changes in the final Clean Power Plan was to promote cross-state emissions trading between states, including through the establishment of mass-based targets and “trading-ready” mechanisms. This free CSG eCademy webcast features experts who discuss state emissions trading options as well as federal plans for states that fail to submit a satisfactory state plan that embraces trading.

During a recent CSG eCademy webcast, “Pricing Rooftop Solar: Sustainability, Fairness & Promoting Productivity,” two former regulatory commissioners discussed the process used to set utility rates and how to ensure cost fairness and affordability while enabling the growth of distributed generation.

CSG South

Energy policies in Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) member states are undergoing substantial changes as installations of distributed generation systems, such as rooftop solar panels and other small-scale renewable energy technologies, continue to expand. This expansion has been encouraged by state and federal tax credits, which have made renewable energy technology, especially solar energy technology, increasingly affordable. Further encouraging the installation of distributed generation technologies is the availability of net metering programs, whereby customers who generate some of their own electricity are able to offset their electricity bills by selling their excess power back to a utility provider. Net metering allows customers a chance to recoup the high initial cost of installing distributed generation systems, and may provide a positive return on investment.

Increases in the use of distributed generation systems by consumers have led to an increase in demand for utilities to offer net metering. Of the 15 states represented by the SLC, 11 have statewide net metering policies, while Texas has a voluntary policy. Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee do not yet have net metering policies in place. This SLC Regional Resource reviews the concept of net metering and analyzes the status and nature of net metering legislation and trends in SLC member states.

The comment period closed for the EPA's proposed Clean Power Plan rule on Dec. 1. The total number of comment submissions is on track to reach close to 2 million -maybe even exceed it.  Between now and mid-spring the EPA will be busy sifting through comments to aid in crafting the final rule scheduled to be released in June, 2015.  State environmental agencies, the agencies responsible for developing compliance plans, had much to say about the EPA proposal and most states submitted comments.

The Department of Energy's Energy Information Administration (EIA) announced today the launching of a greatly enhanced state energy portal which can provide users a dynamic and customizable tool that can display and manipulate energy data. 

Earlier this week, Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration announced its intention to re-start the regulatory review process by the Department of Environmental Conservation which has drawn intense public attention to determine if hydraulic fracturing should be allowed. This significant change in course is especially noteworthy as a potential compromise was floated only three months ago to try and ease the political stalemate by allowing limited fracking in counties and communities that support the technique near the Pennsylvania border where significant drilling is occurring in the Marcellus Shale.

A group of large trade organizations representing electric utilities and co-ops are legally challenging a March 2011 ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) concerning the rate structure for "demand-response" technology, which are essentially agreements with customers or companies to receive compensation for reducing power demand during peak usage. The utilities argue that the FERC rule overcompensates demand-response providers and promotes the wrong signals to markets to discourage building needed baseload power generation. Demand-response companies unsurprisingly disagree, and contend that the rate structure is necessary to help reduce overall energy consumption, give more options to customers, and that it is cheaper in the long run to offset electricity demand rather than building new power plants.

The Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Jeff Bingaman, is expected to soon introduce legislation mandating a Clean Energy Standard. Although details have not been published, it's expected that the legislation was based off a report drafted by the Energy Information Administration and will essentially let all forms of electricity generation that produce less CO2 than current state-of-the-art coal plants to qualify under the mandate based on a sliding-scale. Most congressional observers doubt there are enough votes in the Senate to pass the initiative, but Bingaman's proposal may provide some of the policy framework for the Administration's push for developing a Clean Energy Standard.

The President unveiled his $3.8 trillion budget for Fiscal Year 2013 which resonated broad themes from his State of the Union speech last month before Congress. Energy and environmental issues were key highlights of the budget’s rollout, with a heavy focus on developing new clean energy, advancing research and development funding for alternative energy, as well as promoting advanced manufacturing jobs.

TransCanada has faced many hurdles in its multi-year effort to get a new 1,700-mile oil pipeline built. But this fall, the energy infrastructure company ran up against perhaps its stiffest opposition yet — from concerned residents and lawmakers in the state of Nebraska.