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Tag Archive: GreeneHurlocker

Get Your Lobby On! Virginia Clean Energy Lobby Days 2017

We’re big on advocating the expansion of development and use of renewable energy sources in Virginia and, as members of the Maryland-DC-Virginia Solar Energy Industry Association (MDV-SEIA), we show up on Clean Energy Lobby Day. CELD is an annual advocacy day which allows legislators and constituents to connect regarding energy policy under consideration by the General Assembly. It’s always a great time to talk with legislators and our industry partners.

This year, there will be two CELD opportunities at subcommittee meetings at the Capitol in Richmond: Thursday, January 26th, for the Senate Energy Subcommittee and Tuesday January 31st, for the House Energy Subcommittee. If you want more solar development, this might be a chance to make your opinion heard by the General Assembly. Come join us!

If you want to know more about MDV-SEIA, where GreeneHurlocker co-founder Eric Hurlocker serves on the Board, or about renewable energy development in Virginia, please call Eric or any of our Virginia energy lawyers.

Charlottesville Projects Add to Solar Energy Growth

Charlottesville Tomorrow has a nice piece on Riverbend Development’s plans to install a sizable solar panel array on one of its properties in the town. This follows on an installation earlier this year by the company on Starr Hill Brewery, nearby in Crozet, Virginia.

As we noted here, when we attended a ceremony in Charlottesville for the opening of a solar energy project within the Albemarle Public Schools, this area of the state is seeing a big interest in solar. Governor McAuliffe was on hand then and sent a very positive message to the whole Commonwealth that solar projects and the jobs they bring are good for Virginia.

If you want to know more about Power Purchase Agreements like those used in Albemarle County or about other opportunities for renewable and solar energy projects in Virginia, contact any of our Virginia energy lawyers.

Eric Wallace Helps Guide Undocumented Children to Lawful Residency

Children who flee the dangerous social conditions and crushing poverty of countries in Central America and Asia face another daunting challenge when they reach American soil, one with which they have no Eric Wallace at his deskexperience and for which they possess no functional skills: the United States immigration process.

Since joining GreeneHurlocker in 2014, associate Eric Wallace has given his pro bono time helping Commonwealth Catholic Charities and assisting undocumented children to navigate the path to legal residency in the United States.

“It takes a good amount of diligence to figure out the best way for these immigration cases to be addressed, diligence that can be difficult for attorney, much more so for a child who often cannot speak or read the language, and who does not understand the quirks and variables of the United States immigration system,” says Wallace.

Wallace says undocumented juveniles who are picked up by U.S. Customs and Border Protection can be connected with non-governmental agencies such as Commonwealth Catholic Charities, which then attempt to find foster families to care for the children while their cases makes their way through the courts. Many times the foster families live across the country from site where the child was taken into custody, which is why some children arrive in Virginia for placement.

The path for many of the children is lengthy.  In the cases of juveniles from volatile and unsafe backgrounds making their way to the United States, special immigrant juvenile status often affords them a path to residency. Typically, Wallace works with a social worker at Commonwealth Catholic Charities on behalf of a child, facilitating trips to the courts, working with the parents of the child, and often helping to translate for children that are only beginning to learn English.

“Over the years, we have been able to help a number of children remain in the United States and avoid the types of circumstances that originally drove them from their homes abroad,” said Wallace. These children come to the United States with no resources and no alternatives, so Wallace finds it very rewarding to be able to work with the skilled social work professionals of agencies such as Commonwealth Catholic Charities to provide these children some hope for a better future as they work their way along the complex legal path to residency.

“We applaud and whole-heartedly support the pro bono efforts of our lawyers, like Eric, who dedicate significant time, often without much fanfare, to enhance the lives of these children,” said Eric Hurlocker, co-managing member of GreeneHurlocker.

Four Years and Counting for GreeneHurlocker

We are pleased to have reached our firm’s 4-year anniversary this month! We don’t normally make a big to-do about our anniversary – other than a few beers – but we’re especially proud of our growth in lawyers, staff, and number of clients.GreeneHurlocker mark

The firm has come a long way since Brian Greene and Eric Hurlocker joined forces. We now have seven lawyers and a para-legal, and our work extends throughout Virginia and into Maryland, D.C., Delaware, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, and beyond. Here are some things we want to share:

  • We have wonderful clients who do really cool things. Our solar clients have installed solar facilities at the University of Richmond, Washington & Lee University, the Albemarle County School System, and throughout the country. We have a solar panel hanging in our lobby, courtesy of one of our clients. Our retail electric and natural gas clients continue to develop new products using innovative technology that impacts energy consumption, and lives, every day. We have represented other energy companies and municipalities that provide services that are fundamentally important to customers. We are truly honored to have such an incredible and growing client base.
  • We have awesome lawyers. They are smart and nice and work hard, and they pass the “would I have a beer with that dude?” test. They are on the cutting edge of exciting legal and factual issues involving solar development, retail electricity and natural gas, demand response, water service, and more. We have experienced numerous successes on behalf of our clients the past four years, mainly due to the winning combination of our clients and team we have built here.
  • We are proud of the personal relationships we have developed throughout the mid-Atlantic. Just last week our lawyers travelled to Baltimore, MD; Dover, DE; Washington, DC; and Raleigh, NC. We have enjoyed sponsoring the MACRUC conference the past three years and the “Taste of Virginia” cocktail party that generates so much buzz. We have always viewed our energy practice as a “relationship practice” and will continue to build upon what we have accomplished to date.
  • It’s only been four years. We think back to the formation of GreeneHurlocker, when we hoped that the combination of Brian’s regulatory practice and Eric’s transactional practice would feed off each other. So far, so good.

So, it’s time to recognize amazing progress! We’ve grown in terms of clients and lawyers, and moved into bigger office space. We’ve noticed that clients that might not have considered hiring us in the past are now hiring us, in part because of our increased bandwith and expertise to handle their cases and deals. What we’re doing as a firm is working, and it’s unbelievably satisfying.

So, a heart-felt “Thank You” to all of you that have supported us during the past four years. Here’s to many, many more!

Cheers to everyone who joined us last night!

We were grateful for the large crowd of clients, colleagues and friends who came to enjoy our Great Tastes of Virginia reception at the Williamsburg Lodge during the MACRUC Annual Education Conference. The weather cooperated this year and we saw a lot of smiles around the patio as you enjoyed food and beverages native to or close to the hearts of Virginia. Click here to see our photos.

Deep Run High’s Dancing With Us Again

For the past decade, part of the madness of March includes the Deep Run Marathon Dance.  GreeneHurlocker is pleased to once again be a supporter of this great event, which will be held March 18 and 19, 2016, at Deep Run High School.  The Marathon Dance benefits the charities of our local community, and since it began, Deep Run High School students, of all grades, have raised more than $1.5 million for local charities.  The event has become the second largest high school dance marathon in the country and last year raised over $216,753.00!  The Marathon Dance is run and put together by the help of the student committee. They organize and promote fundraisers and the event itself. They also help choose the beneficiaries. Read what was in the Richmond Times Dispatch about the event.

Stay tuned for pictures and updates from this year’s Marathon Dance.

 

MDV-SEIA Sponsors Clean Energy Lobby Day Again

MDV-SEIA elogoOn February 9, 2016, the Maryland, DC, Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association (MDV-SEIA) and the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council will host Clean Energy Lobby Day (CELD) 2016. The event brings together the advanced energy businesses of Virginia with key legislators to advocate for clean technology bills and solar energy-friendly legislation. More than 100 business representatives from Virginia’s solar, wind and energy efficiency industries generally attend.

“GreeneHurlocker will be there and we hope you will join us in this incredible opportunity to make our voices heard,” said Eric Hurlocker, co-managing member of the firm and a Board member of MDV-SEIA. If you want to know more about MDV-SEIA or Clean Energy Day, contact Hurlocker or any of our Virginia energy lawyers.

U.S. Supreme Court: Demand Response is Here to Stay

On January 25th, the Supreme Court issued a landmark decision for the electricity industry, and particularly for demand response providers, settling considerable unease and speculation as to the future of the demand response industry. The term “demand response” generally refers to programs allowing individual customers or groups of electricity customers to curtail their energy usage during times of peak demand, and receive a payment for such reductions. The Supreme Court explained demand response as follows: “wholesale market operators can sometimes—say, on a muggy August day—offer electricity both more cheaply and more reliably by paying users to dial down their consumption than by paying power plants to ramp up their production.”

The 6-2 decision in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission v. Electric Power Supply Association et al., with Justice Scalia joined by Justice Thomas dissenting, upheld the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (“FERC”) Order 745, which sets the rules for demand response pricing. Order 745 requires that demand response be compensated at the full price paid to power generators – the locational marginal price (“LMP”). The Supreme Court’s decision overruled a decision by the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit that: (1) FERC lacked authority to issue Order 745 because the Order regulates the retail market; and (2) alternatively, Order 745’s compensation scheme, paying full LMP for demand response, is arbitrary and capricious under the Administrative Procedure Act. The D.C. Circuit’s decision was overruled on both counts.

The threshold issue was whether FERC has jurisdiction to regulate demand response compensation. On that issue, the Supreme Court found that FERC’s regulation of demand response compensation is consistent with its authority to regulate wholesale market rates. FERC’s demand response compensation scheme is exclusively directed at the wholesale market. Any natural consequences of such wholesale market regulation at the retail level do not render the regulatory scheme unlawful as exceeding FERC’s jurisdiction. As the Supreme Court explained, “every aspect of FERC’s regulatory plan happens exclusively on the wholesale market and governs exclusively that market’s rules.” Moreover, FERC’s demand response compensation scheme is consistent with the Federal Power Act’s “core purposes of protecting ‘against excessive prices’ and ensuring effective transmission of electric power.”

The Supreme Court also rejected arguments that Order 745 overcompensated demand response by setting compensation for demand response at LMP. The alternative pricing methodology, supported by Order 745 opponents, would deduct the savings customers would receive from not using power from the LMP (the LMP-G (generation) formula). Instead, Order 745 will remain in effect, and demand response will continue to be compensated at the full LMP, where demand response offers satisfy FERC’s “net benefits” test, ensuring that accepted demand response offers will save consumers money.

This decision paves the way for continued investment in demand response programs, promoting system reliability and lower electricity prices by allowing demand response to offset higher-cost generators that would otherwise raise wholesale market prices. The long-awaited decision is critical to the future of demand response. As a member of the Advanced Energy Management Alliance (“AEMA”), GreeneHurlocker shares the enthusiasm of its demand response clients and the AEMA on this decision. (A copy of the AEMA’s press release is attached here.)

For questions about the Supreme Court decision or assistance with any demand response matters, please feel free to contact one of GreeneHurlocker’s energy and regulatory lawyers.

Eric Hurlocker and the Virginia Legal Considerations Panel

Eric Hurlocker will be on the “Top Ten Legal Considerations – Virginia” panel at the 2016 Clean Energy CLE, February 3, in Raleigh, NC. Presented by the NC Sustainable Energy Association, the meeting will be held at the Doubletree Raleigh-Durham, a Hilton property just off I-40. Registration for the approximately 140 available spots is brisk, so grab yours right now at the online registration. Scheduled to appear with Eric are William H. Chambliss, Virginia Corporation Commission General Counsel, and Horace Payne of Dominion Virginia Power. Attorney attendees will receive 5 credit hours of North Carolina and South
Carolina general CLE. CLE credit has been applied for with the Georgia and Virginia state bars.

Dominion Customers to Challenge Constitutionality of Electric Utility Regulation Act

A group of industrial customers of Dominion Virginia Power (“Dominion”) has recently taken steps to challenge the constitutionality of Virginia’s Electric Utility Regulation Act (“Regulation Act”) at the Supreme Court of Virginia. At issue is a 2015 amendment to the Regulation Act, Senate Bill 1349, which exempts Dominion and Appalachian Power Company from biennial base rate reviews through 2022. In effect, the legislation prevents the State Corporation Commission (“SCC” or “Commission”) from changing the utilities’ base rates until 2022 – even if the Commission determines that electric rates are too high and are producing excess profits for utility shareholders.

The potential constitutional challenge was triggered by an SCC order late last year that applied Senate Bill 1349 for the first time. In its Final Order in Dominion’s 2015 Biennial Review rate case, SCC Case No. PUE-2015-00027, a 2-1 majority of the Commission applied Senate Bill 1349 and declined to adjust Dominion’s base rates or set a new rate of return on equity for the company. Commissioner Dimitri, however, filed a dissenting opinion, arguing that Senate Bill 1349 violates Article IX of the Constitution of Virginia and therefore cannot prevent the SCC from adjusting Dominion’s base rates.

Following the Commission’s Final Order, the Virginia Committee for Fair Utility Rates (“Committee”), an association of large industrial customers, filed a Petition for Reconsideration at the SCC. The Committee’s Petition cited Commissioner Dimitri’s dissenting opinion and requested that the Commission find that Senate Bill 1349 is unconstitutional. On December 14, 2015, a 2-1 majority of the Commission denied the Committee’s motion. Commissioner Dimitri filed a second dissenting opinion, reiterating his finding that Senate Bill 1349 is unconstitutional. On December 22, 2015, the Committee filed a Notice of Appeal at the SCC, which preserves the Committee’s ability to file a formal appeal with the Supreme Court of Virginia.

The legal arguments advanced by the Committee are based on Article IX, Section 2 of the Constitution of Virginia, which establishes the powers and duties of the SCC. Article IX, Section 2 provides that “Subject to such criteria and other requirements as may be prescribed by law, the Commission shall have the power and be charged with the duty of regulating the rates, charges, and services … of electric companies.” According to the Committee, therefore, the Commission’s authority to regulate electric rates is subject only to “criteria” and “other requirements” that may established by the General Assembly.

The dissenting opinion argues that Senate Bill 1349 “does not establish criteria that the Commission must apply in regulating Dominion’s base rates” but instead “fixes [Dominion’s rates] and takes the base rate setting function away from the Commission.” The Committee has also argued that if Dominion’s rates remain unchanged through 2022, Dominion’s shareholders will reap excess profits of “well over a billion dollars.”

Appeals from the State Corporation Commission are “of right,” meaning that the Supreme Count cannot decline to hear properly filed appeals. In order to be heard by the Court, however, the Committee would have to file a formal “Petition for Appeal” within four months of the date of the Final Order in this case. If a Petition for Appeal is filed, oral arguments would likely be heard by the Court in its September, 2016 session.

If you have any additional questions about any of the legal aspects of this case or its potential to affect the electric rates paid by Dominion’s customers, do not hesitate to contact one of GreeneHurlocker’s Virginia energy and regulatory attorneys.