In a reprise of the 2009 case Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC (ICC I), the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit has once again set aside the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) approval of the PJM Interconnection, LLC’s (PJM) methodology for allocating the costs of certain high voltage transmission projects planned and approved by PJM before February 1, 2013.  The case raises questions about what analysis of benefits is needed to show that a particular cost allocation will be “roughly commensurate” with the distribution of benefits, and in particular what support is required for proposals to “socialize” transmission project costs among the utilities within a regional transmission organization or other regional... READ MORE
On June 19, 2014, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a declaratory order holding that the Federal Power Act (FPA) preempts state and local regulatory authority over a hydropower project under Washington State’s Shoreline Management Act (SMA).  FERC’s order resolves potentially significant delays in construction of the hydropower project under state law and allows construction to proceed immediately as authorized under the FERC license. Van Ness Feldman authored the petition for declaratory order. Background The Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County, Washington (the District) received a 10-year pilot license from FERC for the Admiralty Inlet Pilot Tidal Project (Project) on March 20, 2014.  The 600-kilowatt... READ MORE
Introduction On June 23, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court partially upheld and partially overturned federal rules regulating greenhouse gases (GHGs) from new and modified major stationary sources under the Clean Air Act.  As adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or the Agency), these federal rules required new and modified major sources of GHG emissions to obtain Prevention of Significant Deterioration (PSD) and Title V operating permits and to implement emission limitations for all emitted pollutants including GHGs.  Util. Air Regulatory Grp. v. EPA, No. 12-1146 (2014). The two primary holdings in the opinion, written by Justice Scalia and joined in whole by Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Kennedy, each relied on a different... READ MORE
If you have an interest in rivers, hydropower, fish, or the environment, you will not want to miss the Seminar Group's Comprehensive Review of Hydropower in the Northwest Conference. Hydropower is a critical source of power generation in the Northwest. New developments such as deconstruction of dams, Washington’s Initiative 937  requiring large utilities to use “Eligible Renewable Resources,” and the side effects from dam building and operation underscore environmental and other problems with hydropower.  Join Van Ness Feldman attorneys Matthew Love and Malcolm McLellan as they examine current tidal energy proposals, the status of hydro litigation, and power purchase and sales strategies. This conference will cover a wide range of issues under the... READ MORE
NIPPC’s annual conference brings together power industry players for two days of compelling dialogue and informative addresses. Former U.S. Representative Norm Dicks, Senior Policy Advisor at Van Ness Feldman, will deliver a keynote address. Known for its quality interaction in a beautiful, intimate setting, colleagues have the chance to meet with the shapers of national and regional energy policy including: Susan Ackerman, Chair, Oregon Public Utility Commission Kimberly Harris, President & CEO, Puget Sound Energy Phil Jones, Commissioner, Washington Utilities & Transportation Commission Gregg Kantor, President & CEO, Northwest Natural Elliot Mainzer, Administrator, Bonneville Power Administration Phillip Moeller... READ MORE
What policies do international financing agencies such as the World Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and U.S. Agency for International Development follow when making the decision to provide financing for hydro projects, whether this involves new development or reinvestment? How do they package loans when dealing with private investors? In addition, how are partial risk guarantees shaping the role of future project development worldwide? Mike Swiger, head of Van Ness Feldman's hydropower practice, will share his insights on hydro project financing and policy at this year's HydroVision International, the world's largest hydro conference.  Mike will serve as a panelist on International Finance Options and Policies on Wednesday, July... READ MORE
Van Ness Feldman is pleased to announce that our former colleague, Willie Phillips, has been named to serve as a Commissioner on the DC Public Service Commission.  During Mr. Phillips' tenure at the firm, he advised electric and gas utilities on regulatory, transactional policy, and litigation matters.  Chairman of the firm, Richard Agnew, said of the nomination, “There is no doubt Mr. Phillips has the proper temperament and qualifications to serve the District of Columbia as a Commissioner. He is fully invested in the community in which he lives and will provide years of faithful, fair and excellent service to its citizens. Mr. Phillips has our highest recommendation as a lawyer, person, and public servant.” READ MORE
For the third year in a row, The Legal 500, United States, 2014, recognized Van Ness Feldman as a leader among top US law firms in Energy Regulatory law.  The firm is again one of only two, “Top Tier” Energy Regulatory firms in the country.    Highlighting the firm’s work in the electric, hydroelectric, and gas areas, Van Ness Feldman is described as providing “‘exceptional input’ when advising its broad international client base,” and having “‘excellent relationships’ with regulators and legislators”. The firm was also recognized among the top firms in the Environment: Transaction & Regulatory area for a third time, identifying the firm as being “known for its extensive expertise in the regulation of air pollution, land use, water, wetlands and... READ MORE
Statement of Congressman Norm Dicks: Washington State has lost one of its greatest tribal leaders.  Billy Frank led the fight to establish Indian fishing rights that were part of the treaties established in 1854 by Governor Stevens. The Boldt Decision was highly controversial in 1974, but it was upheld by the United States Supreme Court.  Billy Frank, as Chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, always fought to protect our salmon runs. Billy and his family were my friends and we worked together on the restoration of the Nisqually River delta, which included restoring the estuary function by taking out farming dikes that blocked saltwater from flooding the valley on incoming tides. We also worked together in placing a hatchery on... READ MORE