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    Opportunities and Challenges for Generation Investment in Eastern RTO Markets
    Published on July 17, 2014
    After several years of generation over-supply in the Eastern U.S. due to a combination of gas-fired build-out and low demand growth, SNL Energy finds several indications of an improved investment environment in the next few years. Anticipated coal plant retirements in the PJM Interconnection, the Midcontinent ISO, and even in the New England ISO are expected to tighten reserve margins. At the same time, wintertime supply concerns uncovered during the ‘polar vortex’ events of the winter just ended have improved forward spark spreads. While the boost in asset valuations is salutary, low demand growth and increased renewable generation are likely to serve as headwinds to further margin expansion. Using a combination of market data and fundamental forecasts, SNL Energy investigates the impact market and policy developments have on generation investments.
    SNL Energy
    House Passes CFTC Reauthorization Bill
    Published on July 1, 2014
    On June 24, 2014, the House of Representatives voted 265 to 144 to pass H.R. 4413, entitled the “Customer Protection and End-User Relief Act” (the “Reauthorization Act”).  The Reauthorization Act reauthorizes the operations of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (the “CFTC”) through the 2018 fiscal year.  The Reauthorization Act will now be considered by the Senate and will need to be passed by the Senate and signed by the President prior to enactment.
    Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
    Bank Capital Plans and Stress Tests June 2014
    Published on June 30, 2014
    The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (the “FRB”) recently released a notice of proposed rulemaking (the “FRB NPR”, and the rules set forth therein, the “FRB Proposed Rules”) that would amend the FRB’s capital plan rule (the “Capital Plan Rule”) as well as its supervisory stress test rule and company-run stress test rules. The FRB Proposed Rules would shift the start date of the annual capital plan and supervisory and company-run stress test cycles, the filing date for capital plans and company-run stress tests and the related planning horizon back by approximately three months. The FRB Proposed Rules would not modify the upcoming capital plan and stress test cycle beginning on October 1, 2014 and ending September 30, 2015. Rather, they would amend the cycle that would otherwise begin on October 1, 2015 to instead begin on January 1, 2016 and end December 31, 2016 and correspondingly amend subsequent cycles.
    Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
    Key Supreme Court Ruling Concerning ERISA “Stock Drop” Class Actions
    Published on June 26, 2014
    On June 25, 2014, in Fifth Third Bancorp et al., Petitioners v. John Dudenhoeffer et al., the U.S. Supreme Court issued an important opinion concerning so-called ERISA “stock drop” class actions, wherein participants in an ERISA retirement plan sue the plan’s fiduciaries for investing plan assets in employer stock that later suffers a decline in share price. Although the Supreme Court rejected lower court holdings that a fiduciary’s decision to invest in employer stock is “presumptively prudent,” the Supreme Court laid down new rules that will make ERISA “stock drop” actions difficult to maintain: (1) fiduciaries facing negative public news about the employer are entitled as a matter of law to rely on the integrity of the employer’s share price in purchasing employer stock; and (2) fiduciaries are not allowed to use inside information about the employer to cause the plan to sell employer stock, and are entitled to consider whether refraining from buying additional employer stock or publicly disclosing negative inside information would do more harm than good to the fund.
    Sullivan & Cromwell LLP
    EPA’s Proposed Clean Power Plan - Implications for States and the Electric Industry
    Published on June 16, 2014
    On June 2, 2014 the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced its proposed performance standards for reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing power plants under the Clean Air Act Section 111(d).The proposed rule requires each state to reduce its CO2 emissions rate from existing fossil fuel plants to meet state-specific standards (in pounds per MWh) starting in 2020, with a final rate for 2030 and beyond.2 The EPA estimates that the rule will achieve a 30% reduction in CO2 emissions from the U.S. electric power sector in 2030 relative to 2005 levels. Once the rule is finalized in 2015, states will have until June 2016 to submit initial state implementation plans, to be finalized by June 2017 for stand-alone plans, and by June 2018 for multi-state plans.
    The Brattle Group
    Exploring Natural Gas and Renewables in ERCOT, Part III: The Role of Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, and Combined Heat & Power
    Published on May 29, 2014
    In December 2013 The Brattle Group completed a series of simulations of the future of the ERCOT electricity marketplace through 2032 on behalf of the Texas Clean Energy Coalition (TCEC). The goal of these simulations was to show how renewable and natural gas-fired electricity sources would develop in the next two decades, and how this development would depend on gas prices, the existence of a capacity mechanism in ERCOT, national carbon policies, and other key market drivers. Brattle Group found a wide range of 2032 outcomes, from scenarios with over 40% of ERCOT’s 2032 energy coming from renewables to other cases in which nearly all future capacity additions would be gas-fired.
    The Brattle Group
    Update Regarding D.C. Circuit’s Demand Response Ruling
    Published on June 16, 2014
    Since our last post regarding the D.C. Circuit’s demand response ruling, several notable developments have occurred in both the Electric Power Supply Ass’n v. FERC proceeding itself, and in other, related proceedings.
    Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP (CWT)
    FERC Versus State Authorities: Supreme Court Agrees to Review ONEOK v. Learjet
    Published on July 8, 2014
    On July 1, 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court granted a petition to hear an appeal by several companies contending that antitrust claims filed against them under state law over alleged manipulation of gas prices during the western energy crisis from 2000 to 2002 were precluded by the Natural Gas Act. The Court’s decision to hear this appeal marks an important development in the preemptive effect of the NGA, and may potentially affect the scope of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s enforcement authority versus state authorities.
    Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft LLP (CWT)
    New EPA Rule Seeks to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Existing Power Plants
    Published on June 10, 2014
    On June 2, 2014, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (the “EPA”) issued a proposed rule under which existing power plants would be required to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide. The proposed rule is part of the EPA’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the United States.
    Debevoise & Plimpton LLP
    EIA Short-Term Outlook: June 2014
    Published on June 10, 2014
    North Sea Brent crude oil spot prices increased from a monthly average of $108/barrel (bbl) in April to $110/bbl in May. This was the 11th consecutive month in which the average Brent crude oil spot price fell within a relatively narrow range of $107/bbl to $112/bbl. The discount of West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil to Brent crude oil, which averaged more than $13/bbl from November through January, fell below $4/bbl in early April before increasing to an average of $7/bbl in May. EIA projects Brent crude oil prices to average $108/bbl in 2014 and $102/bbl in 2015 and the WTI discount to Brent to average $9/bbl and $11/bbl in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
    U.S. Energy Information Administration
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