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Bill Rappolt is a partner in the firm's Washington, D.C. office. He is a member of the Energy Industry Team and Real Estate, Land Use and Environmental Practice Group.

On November 15th, 2021, President Biden signed the highly anticipated $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Among other infrastructure-related incentives, the bill includes billions in funding to help fight climate change and support clean energy technologies. Specifically, the bill allocates approximately (1) $65 billion for power infrastructure, of which nearly $29 billion is devoted to bolstering the electric grid (including transmission), (2) $47.2 billion to address critical cyber and climate resilience and (3) $7.5 billion to build out a national network of electric charging infrastructure.[1]  These incentives are critical for facilitating broader proliferation of renewable energy projects and the transmission assets needed to carry their output to load centers, which is expected to help the nation achieve stated climate change goals.

Continue Reading Comprehensive $1.2 Trillion Infrastructure Bill to Provide Critical Support for Clean Energy

On February 18, 2021, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) issued a renewed Notice of Inquiry (NOI)[1] seeking input on potential revisions to its current Policy Statement on the certification of new natural gas transmission facilities.[2]  The NOI supplements FERC’s 2018 NOI issued on the same topic.[3]  Citing changes following receipt of comments in its 2018 NOI proceeding (e.g., the Council on Environmental Quality’s promulgation of updated regulations under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) for implementation by all federal agencies[4] and Executive Order 14008[5]) FERC is seeking to refresh the record and provide “additional viewpoints.”
Continue Reading FERC Issues Second NOI Concerning Its Certificate Policy

With the change in administration in Washington, D.C., President Biden elevated Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) Commissioner Richard Glick to the position of Chairman. A Democrat, Commissioner Glick now assumes
Continue Reading Six Key Items to be Aware of Today Concerning FERC Carbon Pricing Policy

The FERC today issued Order No. 871-A, seeking further comment on modifications last summer to its regulations under Natural Gas Act Sections 3 and 7 that prohibited initiating pipeline construction, pending timely filing of any rehearing request, or a rehearing order on the merits. The Commission has requested initial briefs promptly, by February 16, and reply briefs by March 3. Perhaps not coincidentally, Order No. 871 is currently pending judicial review.
Continue Reading FERC Seeks Further Comment Regarding Pipelines Initiating Construction While Rehearing is Pending

Through a Notice of Inquiry (“Notice”)[1] approved at its January 19, 2021 open meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) asked whether its Uniform System of Accounts (individually, an “Account,” and for more than one, “Accounts”) should be modified to better reflect the circumstances of non-hydro renewable assets that rely on heat, or motion, of the earth or sun, such as facilities that rely on solar, wind, biomass and geothermal sources.  The Notice describes how various Account categories currently do not readily correspond to renewable equipment. The Notice observes that certain types of renewable equipment (e.g., solar panels and photovoltaic (“PV”) inverters), and related maintenance expenditures (e.g., for solar panels, wind towers or their blades) do not fit well within existing descriptions of the Accounts.[2]
Continue Reading FERC Considers Whether to Modify Accounting System for Renewables

As Congress was completing final negotiations of the stimulus package dealing with the public health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, several key energy provisions made their way into the 5593-page omnibus spending bill passed by the House and Senate on December 21, 2020, particularly much needed extensions of several renewable energy and energy efficiency tax incentives. 
Continue Reading Congress Extends Renewable Energy Tax Credits in 2021 Omnibus Spending Bill

Blockchain technology and smart contracts continue to show their potential for disrupting the electric energy industry. Through the use of blockchain, electricity markets could become more decentralized, efficient, transparent and automated. However, blockchain users must have a good understanding of the regulatory landscape in which they will be operating to ensure compliance with applicable laws, and traditional utilities should be aware of the opportunities and pitfalls the technology could pose. Please see attached the latest Sheppard Mullin Six Items to Consider concerning blockchain in the electric industry. 
Continue Reading Blockchain in the Electricity Industry: Six Items to Consider

A September 17, 2020 Final Rule adopted by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“Commission”) removes barriers to the participation of distributed energy resource aggregators in Regional Transmission Organization (“RTO”) and Independent System Operator (“ISO”) markets.[1]  The Commission’s modified regulations[2] require each RTO/ISO to revise its tariff to ensure that its market rules facilitate the participation of distributed energy resource aggregators.  Order No. 2222 is a positive development for distributed energy resources that would like to participate in wholesale electric markets but are unable to do so, and should encourage greater renewable energy resource development in the coming years.  However, the scope and implementation of each RTO’s/ISO’s participation model remains to be seen: distributed energy resources will need to keep an eye on RTOs’/ISOs’ proposed tariff revisions.  Moreover, maximizing the opportunity for distributed energy resources to contribute to markets will be affected by whether the Commission continues to reform Commission-jurisdictional markets to broaden participation of emerging technologies as it did in Order No. 2222, or adopt measures that bolster the viability of fossil and nuclear resources at the expense of emerging technologies as it has done in other proceedings.
Continue Reading Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Gives Distributed Energy Resource Aggregators a Boost; Implementation Will Present Challenges

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) dismissed a petition filed by the New England Ratepayers Association (“NERA”) requesting that the Commission declare that certain sales of energy by net-metered, behind-the-meter generators are exclusively subject to federal jurisdiction.  If granted, the petition would have resulted in the rates for such sales being set at an avoided cost rate in accordance with the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”) or wholesale market prices under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), as applicable, rather than the interconnected utility’s retail rate.  The Commission declined to address the legal issues raised by the petition.  Instead, it determined that the issues presented in NERA’s petition do not warrant a generic statement from the Commission at this time because NERA failed to identify a specific controversy or harm that the Commission should address.  However, concurring opinions from two commissioners suggest that future fights may be imminent over the scope of FERC’s authority to regulate net metering transactions and the rates for such transactions.
Continue Reading FERC Rejects Net Metering Petition, But Fight Is Far From Over

On July 18, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Order No. 860.  The order requires entities with or seeking market-based rate authority (sellers) to submit certain data related to FERC’s market power analyses, including its indicative screens and asset appendices, into a “relational database” maintained by FERC.  The order also requires the submission of information associated with long-term firm sales.  When changes occur to data previously submitted, the relational database must be updated monthly by sellers.  The database will be used to, among other things, develop asset appendices and indicative screens for FERC filings that require a market power analysis.  Finally, Order No. 860 altered the deadline for “change in status” filings.  Beginning on January 1, 2021, sellers will need to comply with the order by making a baseline submission and using the “relational database” to make future market-based applications.
Continue Reading FERC Order No. 860 Mandates New Market-Based Rate Filing and Reporting Requirements for Sellers of Electric Energy