Changing Public Utility Models to Address Climate Change Concerns

(74 Ratings)

Produced on: July 18, 2017

Course Format On Demand Audio

Taught by

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Course Description

Time 63 minutes
Difficulty Intermediate

Since the start of the deregulation era under President Carter, few industries have been spared the upheavals that have been changing regulatory models at the federal and state level. The electric utility business model, under which regulated utilities were granted a competition free environment and a guaranteed return on investment in return for providing safe, reliable power to all users, has been undergoing change for almost forty years. Despite the significant harms incurred by California’s prior deregulation efforts, the pace of utility deregulation has increased in recent years, as states take the lead in addressing climate change concerns, and resiliency of the electric grid takes on increased importance in light of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy and similar events.

In this course we will examine the changes undergoing the historic utility model as states seek creation of decentralized electric systems, using market-based approaches to reach renewable energy goals, such as New York and California’s goal of reaching fifty percent electric generation from renewables by 2030. We will examine various programs states are using, such as Minnesota’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, Connecticut’s Green Bank and New York’s Clean Energy Standard to increase renewable resources and reduce fossil fuel consumption, while adapting the role utilities play in providing a safe and reliable electric grid.


Learning Objectives:

  1. Understand the basics of the historic utility business model as developed under the Public Utilities Holding Company Act, and the pressures that have led states to seek a better approach
  2. Identify the federal-state relationship in electric utility regulation, and the current issues in defining the boundaries of state and federal regulatory authority
  3. Review the current efforts to reform the model, particularly the New York Reforming the Energy Vision program, and similar state programs
  4. Examine the efforts to create a “prosumer” approach to energy consumption, and the methods states are using to incentivize growth of distributed energy resources


Faculty

Daniel A. Spitzer

Hodgson Russ LLP

Dan concentrates his practice on issues involving environmental law, renewable energy, sustainable development, land use law, municipal law, and real estate development. His practice involves numerous renewable energy projects, including representing municipalities, developers, land owners, and financing entities. His work, from project inception through successful litigation, includes some of the largest wind farms in the eastern United States; multiple utility and small­-scale solar projects; and landfill, gas­-to­-energy, biomass, storage, and energy efficiency projects. He successfully litigated a case of first impression concerning a municipality's right to regulate power­-generating facilities based on greenhouse  gas emissions.

A primary part of Dan’s work focuses on National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) review and compliance with federal and state environmental statutes. His work includes environmental assessments for large-­scale telecommunications projects and power generation projects. He counsels agencies and private clients on compliance with historic preservation laws, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, and other federal environmental statutes and regulations. His projects include coordinating responses among federal and state agencies as part of federal and state environmental assessments.

Dan’s general municipal practice involves a wide area of services. He regularly counsels municipal clients on budgeting, leasing, environmental,  zoning,  assessment,  financial,  eminent  domain, and other matters. His litigation experience includes tax  assessment matters, land use issues, financial matters, and other issues before administrative and judicial forums. He assists developers and communities in development projects, including obtaining financial assistance and complying with historic preservation guidelines. Dan has successfully represented clients   in local governmental and judicial forums, including cases involving zoning and development decisions. He has drafted laws for municipalities on issues ranging from enforcing zoning codes to green buildings to regulations under the Telecommunications Act of 1996. He is well versed in the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act and has guided many communities through the environmental review process.


Dan’s practice also includes work in areas concerning the valuation of property. He represents property owners and municipalities in condemnation proceedings and tax assessment challenges, from the initial filing of claims through trial. His clients include municipal redevelopment agencies, developers, and taxpayers throughout New York  State.

Dan brings a strong background in municipal affairs to his practice from an earlier era in his career, when he served as finance  director for a sizeable city in  Arizona.


Reviews

MA
Mattie A.

excellent

JS
James S.

Very good course.

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