Earlier this month, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance issued a no-action letter saying that ExxonMobil could exclude a shareholder proposal that called for the disclosure of specific greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions targets – specifically, targets that correspond with goals outlined in the Paris Climate Agreement.
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With city after city setting 100 percent clean energy goals and states following in lockstep, opportunities are growing for renewable energy companies to develop utility-scale projects. Project development includes the need for energy infrastructure such as transmission lines, for example.
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Developing renewable energy on contaminated lands has proven to be both effective and cost-effective for companies pursuing a new solar or wind energy project. The utility-scale solar farm constructed on the 120-acre Reilly Tar & Chemical Corporation Superfund site is a great example, and there are thousands more that are ripe for redevelopment.
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Much has been written about the problem of the stagnating electricity market due to a combination of falling demand, widespread energy efficiency initiatives, lower electricity costs and aging infrastructure.

This issue has created a situation in which both power generators and utilities are unable to effectively plan for the future. Some utilities have even asked the federal government to approve rate payer-funded bailouts for specific power plants.


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In recent years, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) “one mile” rule has come under increased scrutiny for favoring small power producers over utilities and consumers. The “one mile” rule,  promulgated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), is used to determine whether multiple facilities of a single power producer are part of the same “site” for the purpose of obtaining “qualifying facility” (QF) status under PURPA. Many utilities have argued that FERC’s application of the “one mile” rule has allowed small power producers to “game the system,” resulting in too many mandatory purchasing contracts and high energy costs being passed on to consumers. This concern is raised most frequently with wind farms, where turbines are located within relatively close proximity.
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As 2017 comes to a close, the specifics of the Trump Administration’s agenda for energy regulatory reform in 2018 are beginning to take shape. To implement President Trump’s Executive Order on “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth” (No. 13783), federal agencies solicited public comment and have now issued reports identifying their priorities for reform. These energy independence reports, as well as the Trump Administration’s broader agenda for regulatory reduction and reform, describe steps the administration can take—largely without congressional involvement—to reduce the compliance burden associated with environmental regulations and permit requirements.
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On March 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order (EO) called “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth.”  The EO rescinds a host of climate change-related policies and rules instituted by the prior administration, including the Clean Power Plan and the Climate Action Plan. This new energy policy promotes all forms of domestic energy, and, as President Trump stated in the rollout, American energy dominance. The EO, through five policy statements, directs all federal agencies to identify and revise or revoke any rule that “burdens” the energy industry.

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With the inauguration of President Trump as the 45th President of the United States, stakeholders in various sectors of the energy industry have speculated about the future of energy policy in the new administration. While the early days of the administration have seen a clear commitment to the oil and gas sectors with action on the Dakota Access and Keystone XL pipelines, the question remains regarding the president’s anticipated support of the renewable energy sector.
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On December 15, 2016, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) in Docket No. RM17-3-000 regarding fast-start resources operating in markets run by independent system operators (ISOs) and regional transmission organizations (RTOs). Specifically, the NOPR addresses the manner in which ISOs and RTOs should incorporate offers from fast start-resources into their Day Ahead and Real Time energy prices. FERC claims that these efforts are another step to improve price formation in wholesale electricity markets.
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The Clean Power Plan, the Obama Administration’s attempt to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants, had its day in court on September 27. What a day it was!

Ten judges of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments addressing the validity of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan in this rare “once in a lifetime” case. (Judge Merrick Garland, a nominee to the Supreme Court, did not hear the case.) A dozen lawyers battled for nearly eight hours — far longer than the three hours the court had allotted — on issues ranging from the Plan’s constitutionality, obscure principles of statutory interpretation, congressional intent, states’ rights, and administrative procedure.
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