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September 14, 2018
NEM Events

NEM’s Western Energy Policy Roundtable will be held January 28-30, 2019, at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada. You may register here.

An agenda will be available shortly. Sponsorships are available. Please contact headquarters if you are interested in sponsorship.

Click here to view all past updates.
7th Circuit Decision Upholds Illinois ZEC Program

In a decision issued this week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit upheld Illinois law establishing a zero emissions credit (ZEC) system that subsidizes certain nuclear facilities in the State. The law had been challenged as preempted by the Federal Power Act and FERC jurisdiction.

The Court noted that the Supreme Court's recent decision in Hughes "draws a line between state laws whose effect depends on a utility's participation in an interstate auction (forbidden) and state laws that do not so depend but that may affect auctions (allowed)." The Court said the Illinois ZEC program was on the latter side - "To receive a credit, a firm must generate power, but how it sells that power is up to it. It can sell the power in an interstate auction but need not do so. It may choose instead to sell power through bilateral contracts with users (such as industrial plants) or local distribution companies that transmit power to residences. . . . The zero-emissions credit system can influence the auction price only indirectly, by keeping active a generation facility that otherwise might close and by raising the costs that carbon-releasing producers incur to do business. A larger supply of electricity means a lower market clearing price, holding demand constant. But because states retain authority over power generation, a state policy that affects price only by increasing the quantity of power available for sale is not preempted by federal law."

The Court found that, "Illinois has not engaged in any discrimination beyond what is required by the rule that a state must regulate within its borders. All carbon-emitting plants in Illinois need to buy credits. The subsidy's recipients are in Illinois; so are the payors. The price effect of the statute is felt wherever the power is used. All power (from inside and outside Illinois) goes for the same price in an interstate auction. The cross subsidy among producers may injure investors in carbon releasing plants, but only those plants in Illinois (for the state's regulatory power stops at the border). The combination of Section 824(b)(1) and the absence of overt discrimination defeats any constitutional challenge to the state's legislation."

The full text of the Decision is available on the NEM Website.

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Proceeding Opened on Utility Cybersecurity Reporting

The Commission opened a proceeding and is requesting comments on proposed cybersecurity reporting requirements for utilities. The Commission proposes to adopt a periodic cybersecurity reporting requirement for all electric, gas and water utilities exceeding a customer count of 30,000 customers. The report would cover ten standardized categories including: cybersecurity plan overview; cybersecurity standards adopted; reporting cyber incidents; partnerships for information sharing, planning and situational awareness; procurement practices to manage cybersecurity risks from vendors; personnel and policies on hiring, training and separation to manage cybersecurity risks; risk management process to assess and prioritize cybersecurity risk; implementation of cybersecurity strategies; response and recovery to cyber incidents; and cybersecurity process. The Commission proposes that self-certification be accepted as an alternative to the engagement of an independent cybersecurity consulting firm for certification of periodic cybersecurity reporting. A three year audit schedule is proposed to be utilized and staggered by the different reporting utilities. The Commission also proposes that cybersecurity breach reporting requirements be made applicable to "all Maryland electric, gas and water companies regulated by the Commission, regardless of their number of customers." Comments on the proposals are due October 10, 2018. The full text of the Notice Initiating Proceeding is available on the NEM Website.

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