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Ari Peskoe

  • Wildfires Drove PG&E to Bankruptcy, Where Utility Must Change to Survive

    January 30, 2019

    PG&E Corp. on Tuesday became the largest public company to file for bankruptcy in the U.S. in the past decade as mounting liabilities from its role in triggering California wildfires pushed the utility over the brink. ... Ari Peskoe, director of Harvard Law School’s electricity law initiative, said the changing nature of PG&E’s customer base mirrors broader challenges to the monopolistic business model many U.S. utilities have enjoyed for decades. “There’s a larger issue at hand regarding how utilities are coping with new technology,” Mr. Peskoe said. “Maybe this is an opportunity for the industry to think about this differently.”

  • The Supreme Court should reject requests for a do-over on state clean energy programs

    January 18, 2019

    An op-ed by Ari Peskoe, Director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program: Last week, power generation companies asked the Supreme Court to review a pair of lower court decisions upholding states' Zero Emission Credit (ZEC) programs. Nearly identical ZEC programs enacted by New York and Illinois require utilities to compensate certain nuclear plants for their emission-free power by purchasing credits that represent the environmental benefits of zero-emission energy.

  • EPSA Asks Supreme Court to Review ZEC Rulings

    January 11, 2019

    Several power producers joined the Electric Power Supply Association on Monday in petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court to review appellate court rulings upholding the New York and Illinois zero-emission credit programs. ... Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard Law School, said, “These arguments about the text of the FPA and the court’s 2016 Hughes decision largely repeat the generators’ briefs filed at the 2nd and 7th Circuits. In rejecting these arguments, the 2nd Circuit panel found it ‘telling that [the generators] cannot persuasively explain why FERC’s holding [disclaiming jurisdiction over RECs] does not apply equally to ZECs.’”

  • Coal booster joins energy regulator, dealing setback to green movement

    December 7, 2018

    Earth Day is usually an occasion for politicians to extol natural wonders and our efforts to preserve them. For Bernard L. McNamee, who today became one of the nation’s top energy regulators, it was an opportunity to praise oil and coal...Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard Law School, told Yahoo News that McNamee should be “disqualified” from handling matters related to this past work with the Department of Energy. McNamee has made no indication that he would make such a recusal.

  • Study: There is no electric grid emergency (at least for the next 5 years)

    November 2, 2018

    The grid operator for the mid-Atlantic region released a long-anticipated study about whether coal and nuclear plant retirements present a threat to its electric supply. The study found there's no immediate threat over the next five years. But it found that under some scenarios -- a perfect storm of plant retirements, pipeline failures, and extreme weather -- there could be problems in the future...Ari Peskoe, Director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard University, said the study provided little support for those in favor of the plan to bail out FirstEnergy's coal and nuclear plants. "Had they found an immediate need, then that would have supported FirstEnergy's case," Peskoe said.

  • EPA toxin move helps industry a little. But at what cost?

    September 24, 2018

    ...Roughly 5 percent of U.S. coal capacity is scheduled to retire this year, while Energy Department figures show that domestic coal consumption in the power sector slumped to a three-decade low in 2017 (Climatewire, March 15). "They're basically trying to stop the bleeding," said Ari Peskoe, director of Harvard University's Electricity Law Initiative. "But they still can't stop their ultimate death."

  • Trump’s energy blitz and the legal showdown to come

    June 11, 2018

    The Trump administration's latest bid to boost troubled coal and nuclear plants is certain to spark a legal war if it's ever finalized. After details of a rescue proposal leaked ahead of a National Security Council meeting Friday, energy experts set to work unpacking the legal issues and gaming out potential litigation scenarios. The draft memo out of the Department of Energy, first published by Bloomberg News, proposes using two federal laws focused on emergencies and wartime needs to extend the life of coal and nuclear power plants at risk of retiring soon...While federal courts have issued decisions about contract disputes and other specific issues under the law, they haven't reached any broad rulings about the scope of authority the DPA gives DOE, said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard Law School.

  • Trump Prepares Lifeline for Money-Losing Coal Plants

    June 5, 2018

    Trump administration officials are making plans to order grid operators to buy electricity from struggling coal and nuclear plants in an effort to extend their life, a move that could represent an unprecedented intervention into U.S. energy markets. The Energy Department would exercise emergency authority under a pair of federal laws to direct the operators to purchase electricity or electric generation capacity from at-risk facilities, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News. The agency also is making plans to establish a "Strategic Electric Generation Reserve" with the aim of promoting the national defense and maximizing domestic energy supplies...Invoking national security concerns could bolster the Trump administration’s case in any legal challenges over the intervention, said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard University. "It’s going to be tough to get a court to question DOE’s factual finding -- particularly if it relates to national defense," Peskoe said in an interview. Tapping two statutes simultaneously also could give the administration more "legal room," Peskoe said.

  • In Renewed Push, Federal Power Regulators May Act on PURPA

    May 29, 2018

    As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission prepares to revive a review of the implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, energy industry experts say that FERC might make some regulatory updates this time around, which could end up making it harder for renewable facilities to sell power to utilities under the law...The most substantive possible PURPA changes, however, would need to come from Congress, which last enacted substantive amendments to the law in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. “The fundamental goal of the law is to encourage the development of these qualifying facilities that Congress outlined, and FERC does not have the authority to rewrite that goal,” said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program, in a phone interview Tuesday. “That goal is embedded in the law.”

  • Trump May Invoke Cold War Era Defense Act to Boost Coal Plants

    April 19, 2018

    Months into the Korean War, President Harry Truman capped wages and imposed price controls on the steel industry, seizing authority under a newly passed law to take action in the name of national defense. Now, more than a half century later, Trump administration officials are considering using the same statute to keep struggling coal and nuclear power plants online, according to four people familiar with the discussions who asked for anonymity to discuss private deliberations..."This would extend the statute far beyond how it’s ever been used before," said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard University. "This statute did not contemplate the sort of use that apparently now the administration is considering."

  • New state energy plan likes nuclear power, worries about electricity rates, isn’t too interested in trains

    April 18, 2018

    new 10-year energy strategy from the Sununu administration prefers Uber to trains, supports nuclear at least as much as wind and solar, and says that electricity cost to ratepayers rather than support for renewables should be topmost in the minds of regulators and lawmakers. The 10-Year State Energy Strategy, released Tuesday by the Office of Energy and Planning, signals several shifts from a 2014 report issued under Gov. Maggie Hassan...The Energy Strategy is much less bullish on renewable energy sources due to fears they will raise the cost of electricity, arguing that subsidizes and mandates in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island might “socialize costs” throughout the six-state region, which shares a power grid. “The default assumption is that renewable energy is expensive, which may or may not be true, and expressing concern that New Hampshire is going to pay for it,” said Ari Peskoe, director Director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program. “It’s sort of a southern New England versus northern New England issue.”

  • FirstEnergy: If feds don’t help us, more power plants will close. Trump’s thinking about it

    April 15, 2018

    Losing millions of dollars a year at its power plants, Ohio-based FirstEnergy has asked the Trump administration for help. Though it may have the president’s ear, it’s unclear how much President Trump can do to help the company’s struggling coal and nuclear plants. FirstEnergy, which filed for bankruptcy last month, and plans to close three nuclear plants in Pennsylvania and Ohio, wants Energy Secretary Rick Perry to declare a “202-C” grid emergency, and make customers in Pennsylvania and surrounding states pay more for electricity from nuclear and coal...What is a 202? It’s a provision of federal law designed to keep the grid functioning during extreme events that could cause power outages, said Ari Peskoe, an electricity law professor at Harvard. “It was specifically written by Congress in 1935 to ensure that electricity supply did not have the sort of problems that arose during World War One,” Peskoe said.

  • Legal morass threatens to put FirstEnergy request on ice

    April 11, 2018

    Energy Secretary Rick Perry downplayed the likelihood that his department would declare a grid emergency and direct financial support to coal and nuclear power plants owned by FirstEnergy Solutions Corp. (FES), the competitive-generation arm of FirstEnergy Corp. On March 29, FES told Perry that its money-losing coal and nuclear power plants face closure — amounting to a grid emergency — and that the Department of Energy should use its authority under Section 202(c) of the Federal Power Act to keep them online...If DOE were to issue a 202(c) order, "people would be immediately filing challenges at the D.C. Circuit," said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at Harvard Law School. Such a legal move, which is almost assured from other power generators, natural gas interests and large electricity consumers, among others, would prevent any meaningful "emergency" action to help the FES plants.

  • Utility Giant FirstEnergy Calls for Emergency Subsidy, Says It Can’t Compete

    April 2, 2018

    Deep in debt and undercut in the marketplace by renewable power, the big utility company FirstEnergy appealed to the Trump administration on Thursday to use emergency powers to let it charge more for standby power from its coal and nuclear plants. The request, in a letter to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, followed an announcement that the company plans to close three nuclear plants in Ohio and Pennsylvania unless they can get a break...In a detailed thread on Twitter dissecting FirstEnergy's bid, Ari Peskoe, an energy analyst at Harvard University, said the company's argument was "dizzying" in its critique of FERC, which regulates the grid, and PJM, which operates it regionally. The company called FERC's reliance on advice from the grid operators "misplaced" since between them they have allowed the markets to move in ways that put companies like FirstEnergy at a competitive disadvantage.

  • PJM rejects FirstEnergy’s claims of a power emergency

    April 2, 2018

    FirstEnergy Solutions says DOE must act to save coal and nuclear power in the mid-Atlantic, but the region's grid operator says there's no emergency — and in fact, it will probably get along just fine without FirstEnergy's power plants. In a highly unorthodox application to Energy Secretary Rick Perry, the subsidiary to FirstEnergy Corp. blasted PJM Interconnection and FERC for failing to ensure that coal and nuclear plants make enough money to stay afloat..."The chutzpah involved here!" said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program. He said the company's request was the same as Perry's earlier proposed rule, but this time "with a statutory mechanism." "They’re asking it for numerous other entities that have not made the request, and some were opposed to the original NOPR," Peskoe said.

  • Why Rick Perry’s Coal-Friendly Market Intervention Was Legally Doomed

    January 12, 2018

    Legal experts have been saying for months that Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s plan to upend energy markets in order to prop up uncompetitive coal and nuclear power plants was destined to fail. Monday’s unanimous dismissal by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission -- an independent agency with four of its five members appointed by President Trump -- only confirmed that view...“If you look at the order on Monday, I think FERC starts out by reiterating its preference, its policies, for promoting competition, and quickly then rejects the proposal as unjust and unreasonable,” said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow with Harvard Law School’s Environmental Law Program. “They don’t waste a lot of time on the proposal. I think they just view it as completely inconsistent with everything the commission has done over the past 20 years.”

  • Power Producers Stumble Off The Perry-Go-Round

    January 9, 2018

    Every so often, a policy proposal comes along that's so ill-conceived, one can dispense with the usual nuance and just call it flat-out ridiculous. Energy Secretary Rick Perry's plan to subsidize coal-fired and nuclear power plants for stockpiling fuel was just such a proposal...Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School, sees some merit in finding ways to prevent plants that are providing power to the grid from incurring losses. Equally, though, he points out that keeping inflexible plants on the grid adds cost to the system, especially as coal-fired plants, for example, "seem like the kind of resources that are eventually going to go away."

  • FERC Chair McIntyre requests 30-day extension for DOE NOPR action

    December 8, 2017

    Newly-arrived Chairman Kevin McIntyre wasted little time exerting his influence on the deliberations over DOE's proposed grid resilience rulemaking. Hours after being sworn in, McIntyre sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Rick Perry requesting another month to examine the DOE plan..."FERC always had the authority to alter the timeline as it saw fit," said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard's Environmental Policy Initiative. "This appears to be FERC being courteous, but there’s nothing DOE can do to force FERC’s hand on Monday."

  • Electricity Prices Plummet as Gas, Wind Gain Traction and Demand Stalls

    December 1, 2017

    The rapid rise of wind and natural gas as sources of electricity is roiling U.S. power markets, forcing more companies to close older generating plants...“Generators are just fighting for existing market share,” said Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School. “The aging fleet of coal and nuke generators, combined with low prices, makes this intense.”

  • Electricity Prices Plummet as Gas, Wind Gain Traction and Demand Stalls

    November 30, 2017

    The rapid rise of wind and natural gas as sources of electricity is roiling U.S. power markets, forcing more companies to close older generating plants. Wholesale electricity prices are falling near historic lows in parts of the country with competitive power markets, as demand for electricity remains stagnant while newer, less-expensive generating facilities continue to come online....“Generators are just fighting for existing market share,” said Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School. “The aging fleet of coal and nuke generators, combined with low prices, makes this intense.”

  • No End Seen to State-Federal Tensions

    November 20, 2017

    State-federal tension over electricity policy is likely to continue even after current debates over nuclear and coal subsidies end, speakers told the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Annual Meeting last week. In fact, said former FERC Commissioner Tony Clark, “things are probably going to get more tense and more difficult before they get easier.”...Ari Peskoe, of Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative, said legal challenges to Illinois’ and New York’s zero-emission credits for nuclear plants “expose a question that courts have not addressed in the 20 years of restructuring: May a state provide an incentive for energy production without intruding on FERC’s exclusive jurisdiction over energy sales? Perhaps the state authority over generating facilities means just that — the facilities themselves, and not the energy that they produce,” he said.

  • DOE’s resilience proposal: The looming legal assault

    November 14, 2017

    Troves of recent comments from supporters and critics of a Trump administration plan to support coal and nuclear power generation are just the beginning of what promises to be a bitter battle over the future of electricity markets. As the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission sifts through arguments over a Department of Energy proposal to prop up "fuel-secure" generators to boost the grid's resilience, one thing is clear: The embrace of any approach that appears to favor coal and nuclear over other fuel sources will spark a mad dash to the courtroom..."FERC can only order a change in rates if it first concludes that current rates are unjust and unreasonable," said Harvard Law School electricity expert Ari Peskoe, who noted that FERC's previous proposals for market rules through the years have included such a finding. "That's fundamental to the Federal Power Act. It's to protect utilities and the public from arbitrary rate changes."

  • The pro-NOPR playbook: Supporters broadly interpret FPA to justify DOE proposal

    October 25, 2017

    Supporters of the Department of Energy’s proposal to provide cost recovery for coal and nuclear plants are leaning on a broader interpretation of the Federal Power Act to justify the rule in their comments at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission...“There is a distinction between what FERC can do as a matter of law and what it should do,” Ari Peskoe, a senior electricity fellow at Harvard Law School, wrote to Utility Dive in an email. “As a matter of law, once FERC makes a technical judgment that a market rule will result in just and reasonable rates, as long as it has some evidence in the record to support its decision, it’s difficult to get a court to overturn that determination."

  • FERC Faces Barrage of Comments on DOE’s Coal, Nuclear Cost-Recovery Rule

    October 20, 2017

    With the deadline for public comment on the Department of Energy's controversial proposal to provide cost recovery for coal and nuclear power plants fast approaching, all sides have been weighing in. The DOE’s notice of public rulemaking (NOPR) is currently in the hands of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which recently agreed to an expedited review period...In a filing this week, Ari Peskoe, a Harvard Law School senior fellow writing for the Harvard Environmental Policy Initiative, laid out a Iegal argument he discussed days after the NOPR first came out during an interview on The Interchange with GTM Research chief Shayle Kann. In simple terms, DOE hasn’t shown, or even proposed, that current wholesale rates in FERC-regulated jurisdictions are “unjust and unreasonable” or “unduly discriminatory” -- and without such a finding, FERC has no justification to act to change what’s already in place.

  • Pruitt’s move to repeal CPP sets up prolonged battle over carbon regulations

    October 11, 2017

    In 2016, then Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump pledged to "put coal miners back to work." That promise included replacing the Obama administration's Clean Power Plan, which sought to slash power sector emissions, and was the centerpiece of the U.S. commitment to the Paris Climate Agreement...Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law with the Harvard Law School, noted the EPA did not issue a new finding contradicting the Clean Power Plan’s analysis on energy options for utilities. “[There is] nothing in here about renewable energy was too expensive. They are not going back to the record to find new analysis,” Peskoe said.

  • Minnesota agencies sued over power law favoring home-state companies

    October 5, 2017

    A New York-based electricity provider is suing two Minnesota public agencies over a law it claims improperly favors home-state companies for new power line projects. The 2012 state law gives "incumbent" electricity transmission providers in Minnesota a "right of first refusal" for new power line projects. In other words, they get first dibs over companies that don't currently have transmission lines in Minnesota..."There are a few other states that have such laws," said Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow at Harvard Law School's Environmental Policy Initiative. None has been tested in a federal court. The suit by LSP Transmission "could set an important precedent," Peskoe said.

  • Trump’s energy secretary wants to save coal. Will Californians end up paying the price?

    October 4, 2017

    A new proposal from the Trump administration could force Californians to foot some of the bill for propping up struggling coal plants in Utah and Wyoming, critics say — but only if California Gov. Jerry Brown succeeds in his quest to unify the western power grid...While the text of Perry's proposal is difficult to decipher, its goal seems to be "guaranteed profitability" for certain power plants, said Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School who has litigated cases before the commission. "It flies in the face of everything FERC has done for the last 20 years, which is really promoting the development of competitive markets for energy," Peskoe said.

  • Did Rick Perry Just Propose a Value-of-Coal Tariff? (audio)

    October 3, 2017

    An interview with Ari Peskoe. Thought that controversial grid resiliency report ordered by Energy Secretary Rick Perry was only an intellectual exercise? It didn't take long for the Department of Energy to put it into action -- in exactly the way that critics feared when the report was first announced. Last week, Perry asked federal energy regulators to consider new rules that would value coal and nuclear plants that are capable of keeping 90 days of fuel on hand. In other words: Find a way to help keep struggling baseload plants open by offering them a new financial incentive.

  • US delivers electric shock with coal and nuclear subsidy plan

    October 2, 2017

    A legal battle over the future of the US electricity system is looming after the Trump administration shocked the industry with proposals for new subsidies for coal-fired and nuclear power plants. If implemented, the plan could mean the most radical shake-up of the market in decades. Rick Perry, the energy secretary, on Friday sent a proposal to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission calling for payments for power plants that provide “essential energy and ancillary reliability services” — and defined these in a way that means only coal and nuclear generators are likely to qualify...Ari Peskoe of Harvard Law School said Mr Perry’s plan did not meet the legal requirements for proposed rules under US administrative procedures, and recommended that FERC treat it as a “comment” on its existing work on supporting grid reliability.

  • Updated: DOE proposes cost recovery for baseload generators in new FERC rule

    October 2, 2017

    Released at the end of August, the Department of Energy's grid study concluded that the reliability of the bulk power system is strong today, but changes in the resource mix could present challenges in the future. The report urged federal regulators to begin examining how to better compensate generators for the services they provide for reliability and resilience if it finds reliability is threatened..."I would say this is not a proposed rule that could form the basis of a final rule," said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School's Environmental Policy Initiative​. "Usually proposed rules have far more detail that would provide a basis for comments on specific aspects of the proposal and that's not really here."

  • Perry proposes regulatory overhaul to boost coal, nuclear

    October 2, 2017

    In a rare move that could spark sweeping changes in energy regulation, Energy Secretary Rick Perry today called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to take action that could prop up struggling coal and nuclear plants. The Department of Energy wrote in a notice of proposed rulemaking that FERC has an "immediate responsibility to take action to ensure that the reliability and resiliency attributes of generation with on-site fuel supplies are fully valued."...DOE's proposed rule orders FERC to finalize the regulation within 60 days of its publication in the Federal Register, but that timeline might not meet legal requirements, said Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow at the Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative. "FERC rules usually have much more technical detail," said Peskoe. "This reads more like a directive to FERC to figure this out."

  • What to watch in the wake of the DOE grid study

    August 29, 2017

    The Department of Energy's grid reliability study has been described in many ways since it dropped last week, including schizophrenic, and an effort "to bail out aging coal and nuclear plants." But overall, the reaction has been more moderate and cautiously complimentary...Instead, the consensus seems to be that the study fairly accurately identifies how the nation's bulk power system reached this point: struggling with a changing generation mix and market structure that does not always align with policy goals. Environmental groups have been harsh judges of the document, but others say it is, all in all, fairly unremarkable in political terms. "It's a good compendium of information, but it's nothing new," said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School.

  • New York ZEC Suit Dismissed

    August 1, 2017

    A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed all claims in a suit against New York State’s zero-emissions credit program, the second such victory for state nuclear subsidies after a complaint over the Illinois ZEC program was thrown out July 14. Judge Valerie Caproni of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted motions to dismiss the case from the state’s Public Service Commission, the defendant, and intervenor Exelon, owner of the three New York nuclear plants that will receive ZEC payments (16-CV-8164)...The Illinois and New York decisions are the latest in a string of federal court cases testing the boundaries between state and federal jurisdiction over electricity markets. “Under current law, states have broad authority to advance a cleaner electric grid,” said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School, who tracks constitutional challenges to state energy policies.

  • Why Court Victories for New York, Illinois Nuclear Subsidies Are a Big Win for Renewables

    August 1, 2017

    A federal judge in New York ruled last week that the Empire State’s plan to subsidize nuclear power plants “is constitutional” and “of legitimate state concern.” It’s a significant win for the nation’s largest nuclear fleet owner Exelon, which has been struggling to keep its money-losing power plants operational amid weak electricity demand and low energy prices. But the ramifications of last Tuesday’s decision go well beyond the legality of New York’s nuclear program...“Courts have upheld three programs in one month, all confirming states have authority to favor certain types of generation and use financial incentives to effectuate those preferences,” said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Program Policy Initiative.

  • Court rejects FERC approval of market rate structure

    July 11, 2017

    A federal court today threw out the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's approval of a rate structure in a decision that some analysts said could limit the regulator's ability to modify electricity market designs...But Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School, said he didn't see the ruling as limiting FERC's ability to set market designs. "In this case, it appears that FERC could have achieved the same result by rejecting PJM's filing entirely, explaining exactly why it was rejecting it, and then suggesting that PJM submit the same filing but with the suggested changes," he said.

  • Court hands victory to state utility resource planners

    July 5, 2017

    The recent decision by a federal appeals court rejecting a challenge to Connecticut's solicitation for renewable energy has clarified the authority of states to favor certain types of generation resources over others. "The opinion is particularly significant because it is the first federal court decision to discuss the scope of the Supreme Court's 2016 Hughes decision," said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School's Environmental Policy Initiative. Peskoe was referring to an April 2016 Supreme Court decision in the case of Hughes v. Talen Energy Marketing LLC where the court unanimously struck down an effort by Maryland to promote new gas-fired generation. The court said the state strayed into federal regulators' exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale electricity markets.

  • Citing ‘Hughes v. Talen,’ court rejects challenge to Connecticut’s renewable RFP

    June 29, 2017

    ...Allco Financial, an affiliate of developer Allco Renewable Energy, was rebuffed twice by a federal court that ruled the company did not have the legal standing to bring the case. But Allco reframed its case and won an injunction in district court barring Connecticut from awarding contracts stemming from its renewable energy solicitation. The injunction was later lifted, but Allco appealed the district court ruling to the appeals court. The appeals court has now upheld the district court ruling. “The opinion is particularly significant because it is the first federal court decision to discuss the scope of the Supreme Court’s 2016 Hughes decision,” said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School's Environmental Policy Initiative and manager of the State Power Project website.

  • The only certainty in Trump’s climate orders? More lawsuits

    March 30, 2017

    President Trump this week signed an executive order that begins rolling back the climate actions taken by his predecessor. Making good on promises to cut regulations and restrictions on energy production, Trump told coal miners on stage with him, "you're going back to work." There is much debate over whether that can happen..."The most immediate impact is a lot of litigation," said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Program Policy Initiative.

  • The little-watched renewables case that could bring big changes to federal-state jurisdiction

    December 8, 2016

    A federal court in New York is scheduled to hold a hearing Friday on a case that could have implications for the legal boundaries between federal and state authority regarding energy policy....“If the court reaches the merits, it will likely be the first to opine on the meaning of Hughes,” said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at the Environmental Policy Initiative at Harvard Law School and the manager of the Initiative’s State Power Project website.

  • How natural gas and nuclear have made the US greener – times two

    December 8, 2016

    Two-thirds of US states saw their economies grow while they reduced their carbon-dioxide emissions from 2000 to 2014. They did this by relying more on natural gas and nuclear energy for electricity production and less on coal, according to a report published Thursday by the Brookings Institution...Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School, tells the Monitor in an email that state policy has been a major driver in the growth of renewable energy. He cites the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, which found that more than half of all growth in renewable electricity generation since 2000 is associated with state's Renewable Portfolio Standards requirements. But federal policies, he added, such as renewable energy tax credits, appliance efficiency standards, and Environmental Protection Agency regulations, probably contributed too.

  • Why insiders think the EPA got the best of the Clean Power Plan hearing last week

    October 5, 2016

    The smart money is on the Environmental Protection Agency to prevail as the D.C. Circuit Court reviews its landmark Clean Power Plan, according to experts. But it may not be due to the legal arguments alone...“The petitioners are really focusing on the word ‘source’ and hanging their argument on that word for the most part,” Ari Peskoe, a senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School, told Utility Dive...For Peskoe, attributing the judges’ questioning too much to personal opinion is fraught with peril — it's too much about “trying to get in the heads of the judges,” he said — but he agreed that the fact this case is about climate and carbon, and not another pollutant, could have an impact.

  • DC Circuit primer: All you need to know ahead of the Clean Power Plan’s pivotal court date

    September 20, 2016

    Make no mistake, the Clean Power Plan is almost certainly heading for an ultimate showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court. The stakes are so high that virtually any lower court decision will be challenged. But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit slated to consider the case first, with oral arguments beginning Sept. 27. So is that court's decision just a mere formality? Absolutely not, say experts..."The lower court decision sets up the case," said Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Law Program Policy Initiative. "The D.C. Circuit decision is going to be important regardless."

  • With Clean Energy Standard, New York looks to save nukes, skirt legal challenges

    August 4, 2016

    New York regulators approved an aggressive Clean Energy Standard this week that calls for 50% renewable energy and includes income supports to keep three upstate nuclear plants online. A close reading of the Public Service Commission’s order reveals the state believes it has no choice but to support the plants, or risk falling short on emissions goals. At the same time, the order has been carefully crafted to pass federal or legal scrutiny, though a challenge is all but inevitable...Ari Peskoe, senior fellow in electricity law at Harvard Law School, said he concluded the New York order would not be preempted — at least, not based on the Hughes argument. “The distinction, and the PSC was very deliberate — the commission is not adjusting a wholesale rate. What they’re doing is valuing the carbon-free attribute," Peskoe said. "They’ve been smart about how they’re going about it." That's not to say some party won't make that argument. But “Hughes is a really narrow decision," Peskoe said.

  • Appeals court upholds ruling blocking Minnesota clean energy law

    June 21, 2016

    A federal appeals court on Wednesday upheld a ruling that Minnesota’s 2007 clean energy law illegally regulates out-of-state utilities, the latest and perhaps final chapter in a five-year legal battle between the state and North Dakota. The appellate court decision is a win for the state of North Dakota and its utility and coal interests, which argue that the Minnesota law hampered their ability to sell electricity from coal-fired power plants and build new coal generators...Even more difficult would be an appeal directly to the U.S. Supreme Court. “It’s unlikely the Supreme Court takes this case,” said Ari Peskoe, an energy fellow at Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative.

  • No news may be good news for FERC in grid case

    January 14, 2016

    After the Supreme Court heard oral arguments over a major energy conservation rule in October, supporters of the regulation were anxious. Their fear: A divided court would act swiftly to reject a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission "demand-response" rule requiring power users to be paid for committing to scale back electricity use at times of peak demand. But the passage of weeks and then months with no decision could be a signal that the justices will do more than simply kill the regulation...Given that both cases concern the boundaries of state and federal authority, some lawyers say arguments in the Maryland cases might help shed some light on the demand-response cases. "Maybe they're waiting to hear the other side of that argument before trying to draw a line," said Ari Peskoe, an energy fellow at Harvard Law School's Environmental Policy Initiative. If the justices were aiming to create sound policy regarding the regulatory divisions, "maybe they want to hear both sides so they can try to craft that correctly."

  • Supreme Court’s challenge: Fit new grid into old law

    October 22, 2015

    What happens when you try to fit an evolving electric grid into an 80-year-old statute? Lawsuits wind their way to the Supreme Court. In a move that surprised energy experts, the high court has decided to hear at least two cases this year that deal with how to regulate evolving electricity markets...Ari Peskoe, an energy fellow at Harvard Law School's Environmental Policy Initiative, said it's surprising the court decided to take back-to-back FERC cases. "Hopefully, these two decisions combined will give a lot of clarity in an area that I think really needs it," he said. "This section of the Federal Power Act was written 80 years ago, and it hasn't changed, but the industry has."

  • Lawsuit Challenges A Bedrock Of Connecticut’s Energy Policy

    April 28, 2015

    A New York clean energy developer is suing Connecticut over its renewable energy subsidy program, claiming the state’s policy violates constitutional rules about regulating business across state lines...Legal experts say the challenge to Connecticut’s renewable incentives is unique for many reasons. While the dormant Commerce Clause has been cited in cases regarding clean energy policies, it has not been used against a state that limits its renewable energy to the region, rather than the individual state. “It’s an issue that has been discussed in academic circles, but nobody had filed the challenge,” said Ari Peskoe, an energy fellow at Harvard Law School’s Environmental Policy Initiative, which tracks litigation. He said the case is also unique in that the plaintiff is a clean energy developer. Peskoe said Connecticut has good arguments for its renewable subsidies, but if the case is heard on its merits, its effects could ripple through the country. “A lot of states have a similar regional deliverability requirements, and a judgment that went for Allco in this case could be broadly applicable,” Peskoe said.

  • Tackling Climate Change through Law and Policy: A Q&A with Jody Freeman

    April 24, 2014

    n the spirit of Harvard University President Drew Faust’s recent focus on addressing the problem of climate change, we interviewed HLS Professor Jody Freeman, who served in the Obama administration as Counselor for Energy and Climate Change and is the co-author of a forthcoming book on global climate change and U.S. law.