April 9, 2018

Staying on top of the legal and policy developments in the climate change arena is no small task. As a special service to our members, the Environmental Law Institute provides a series of monthly conference calls with national experts on climate law and policy to keep you up to date and to answer your questions.

SmokyPlanet

SPECIAL NOTE: In April we are pleased to welcome Sally Fisk of Pfizer to our panel to address private-sector initiatives in the climate change area. She and Nikki Roy, who provides our legislative segment, will alternate on the monthly panels. Sally is lead counsel and a strategic advisor for Pfizer’s Environmental Sustainability program, including matters related to climate change. She also leads the Environmental Law Group’s business transactions program and legal support for environmental sustainability disclosures.

Topics to be addressed in this month's call:

  • SDNY decision dismissing Exxon's lawsuit against the AGs of NY and MA.
  • SD TX decision dismissing a class action brought against Exxon's employee stock ownership plan over failure to make climate disclosures.
  • NEPA decision from Montana requiring GHG analysis of a proposed BLM coal lease.
  • Discussion of the EPA determination that the Obama light-duty GHG emission standards for MY 22-25 are not justified and need to be relaxed.
  • A brief history of corporate engagement on climate change since the Trump administration’s announcement of its planned withdrawal from the Paris Agreement (i.e. increase in SBT commitments, We’re Still In It, flurry of ads and letters to Trump Administration), followed by a discussion of more recent events including Larry Fink’s letter to CEOs, and increased expectations for corporate transparency on climate change and supply chain and whether stakeholders think companies are hitting the mark.
  • Arizona enacted a law that will undermine any constitutional amendments that require an increase in the state RPS. Arizona law makers approved and the Governor signed a bill that caps the fee for violating any constitutional provision related to the type of generation sources a utility must use at $5,000.
  • Virginia Gov. Northam's office has said the governor plans to veto legislation passed last week that would prohibit the state from establishing a cap-and-trade program for carbon pollution from power plants or from joining RGGI.
  • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that his state would commit $1.4 billion to 26 renewable projects, including 22 solar farms, three wind farms, and one hydroelectric project. All will be operational by 2022, and all were approved by NYSERDA after a public bidding process.
  • The California Ocean Protection Council adopted updated sea-level rise guidance, which is used by state agencies and local governments in assessing vulnerabilities and planning for infrastructure resilience.
  • A bipartisan group of over 250 governors, state legislators, mayors, and other local elected officials signed a Flood-Ready Infrastructure Statement of Principles, urging reforms to break the disaster-rebuild cycle and improve flood resilience.
  • The Louisiana Office of Community Development announced its plan for purchasing land to relocate community members from Isle de Jean Charles to higher ground; groundbreaking is expected at the new site in 2019.
  • Los Angeles released its comprehensive resilience strategy, developed with support through Rockefeller's 100 Resilient Cities Initiative.

Speakers:
Sally Fisk, Assistant General Counsel, Pfizer
Michael B. Gerrard, Professor, Columbia Law School; Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Jessica Grannis, Adaptation Program Manager, Georgetown University Climate Center
Robert Sussman, Principal, Sussman & Associates
Materials:
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NOTE: This call/recording is for ELI members only. No comments may be quoted
or used without the express written permission of ELI and the panelist.

April 9, 2018

An ELI Public Webinar

“Distributed generation” describes electricity that is produced at or near the location where it is used, and can include renewable energy technologies such as solar photovoltaic panels, which currently account for over 90% of U.S. distributed generation capacity. How to compensate “grid-tied” distributed generation systems—which sell electricity to the grid when more energy is produced than consumed at the use site—is currently the subject of vigorous debate.

Advocates of the prevalent net metering approach, in which distributed generators are compensated for electricity they sell to the grid at the same rate they would pay to receive energy from the grid, argue that it is a crucial incentive for investments in renewable energy, helping to avert health- and climate-related costs of fossil fuel consumption. Critics of this approach argue that it requires utility companies to provide grid maintenance and other services without revenue from distributed generators, and to pass those costs on to utility customers who lack the ability to invest in distributed generation.

In a 2017 article appearing in the Harvard Environmental Law Review, Dr. Burcin Unel and Professor Richard L. Revesz (New York University School of Law) argue that an “Avoided Cost Plus Social Benefit” policy should be adopted for valuing distributed energy generation, whereby distributed clean energy is rewarded for its environmental and health benefits and utilities are compensated for the services they provide–until a more comprehensive retail rate reform can be achieved that ensures the efficient integration of all types of distributed energy resources into the grid.

ELI, co-author Burcin Unel, and commenters from the private sector, government, and advocacy groups discussed this proposal.

Moderator:
Linda K. Breggin, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law Institute

Panelists:
Burcin Unel, Ph.D, Energy Policy Director, The Institute for Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, Co-Author
Ellen Anderson, former Chair of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission
Bradley Campbell, President, Conservation Law Foundation
Adam Benshoff, Deputy General Counsel for Regulatory Affairs, Edison Electric Institute

Materials:
Video of event

Event presentation slides