On June 9, 2017, Beaver Creek Wind II, LLC and Beaver Creek Wind III, LLC (together, “Beaver Creek”) responded to a deficiency letter from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the “Commission”) staff seeking further information on Beaver Creek’s calculation of the “one-mile” rule in its applications for certification as qualifying small power production facilities (QFs). At issue is Beaver Creek’s proposed “weighted geographic center” methodology used to calculate the distance between wind projects consisting of multiple pieces of geographically dispersed electric generating equipment (i.e., wind turbines) for the purposes of applying the one-mile rule under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA). With a potential FERC quorum on the horizon, the instant case provides the new FERC commissioners with an opportunity to establish a preferred methodology, if any, for measuring one mile for purposes of PURPA. As such, the outcome could have immediate impacts for renewable energy project developers, particularly those developing wind projects, as they perform due diligence on property selection and equipment siting when planning multiple projects.
On June 19, 2017, the Comisión Nacional de Hidrocarburos (CNH) completed the Presentation and Opening of Bid Proposals for the First Tender of the Ronda Dos (“Round 2.1”), which was first announced on July 20, 2016. Round 2.1 attracted 36 bidders: 20 individual companies and 16 consortia, including Petroleos Mexicanos, DEA Deutsche Erdoel, Talos Energy, Noble Energy, Chevron, Shell, Total and ConocoPhillips.
Round 2.1 included 15 contract areas with an estimated four billion BOE of dry gas, wet gas, light oil, heavy oil and extra heavy oil located in the shallow waters of Veracruz, Tabasco and Campeche.
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Law360 has published the article “FERC At 40: How It Became An Enforcement Agency,” written by David Applebaum, a partner and co-chair of Akin Gump’s energy regulation, markets and enforcement practice, and Todd Brecher, counsel in the practice. The article looks at the past four decades since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was created to regulate the transmission and wholesale sale of electricity and natural gas, and the transportation of oil by pipeline, in interstate commerce.
President Trump’s decision earlier this month to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement—an international, nonbinding agreement to take steps to limit global temperature rise—followed a series of moves at the federal level to dismantle Obama-era restrictions on emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG). For example, the administration has rescinded major elements of the Obama administration’s Climate Action Plan,1 initiated a review of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2015 Clean Power Plan restrictions on carbon emissions from power plants,2 and extended the implementation dates for restrictions on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling on public lands.3
(Houston) – On June 14, Akin Gump lawyers held the firm’s semiannual energy briefing in its Houston office, with guests in attendance at the event as well as via webinar around the world.
On June 12, 2017, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt announced another extension to the effective date of the Obama-era rule amending federal Risk Management Program (RMP) requirements for chemical facilities, oil refineries and other industries. The EPA has extended the rule’s effective date until February 19, 2019, in order to allow time for its reconsideration of the rule and provide additional comment opportunities. The 20-month extension follows an initial three-month extension issued in March 2017.
On June 5, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Kokesh v. SEC, unanimously held that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cannot seek disgorgement of unjust profits obtained outside of the five-year statute of limitations governing civil penalties. This holding almost surely applies to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) enforcement cases as well—though FERC has rarely sought disgorgement beyond five years, so the effect of the decision on FERC enforcement practice will be limited.
On May 1 and 2, 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or the “Commission”) held a technical conference to “discuss the interplay between state policy goals and the wholesale markets”1 operated by the three eastern RTOs/ISOs.2 The technical conference featured a broad consensus among industry participants, economists, grid operators and state regulators that potential conflicts between state energy policy goals and wholesale electricity markets—designed to achieve lowest-cost dispatch—have reached a tipping point. Seeking additional input on the technical conference, FERC staff issued a Notice late last week inviting “all interested persons” to file initial and reply comments addressing the outcomes of the conference, including potential solutions, “principles and objectives” underlying suggested solutions, and procedural steps that the Commission should take, if any. Comments may also address the agenda topics and questions presented in the Supplemental Notice of the technical conference.