Green Energy Institute - Lewis & Clark Law School

Charged Debate: A Renewable Energy Policy Blog

The views expressed in these blog posts reflect the opinions of each author, but do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Green Energy Institute or of Lewis & Clark Law School. 

  • GEI’s blog has a new home!
    November 4, 2014
    The Green Energy Institute is pleased to announce that we have a new site for our blog. Please visit us at
  • 100 Megawatts Per Day: Solar Power on the Rise
    November 3, 2014
    The International Energy Association recently reported that solar power could generate 16% of the world’s energy by 2050. This post describes some of the IEA’s findings and describes steps the United States should take to make this vision into a reality.
  • New York’s REV: Modernizing the Distribution System
    October 29, 2014
    The New York Department of Public Service proposed broad changes to the state’s electric distribution system in its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) straw proposal. The most notable reform would require utilities to establish Distribution System Platform Providers (DSPPs) to operate and manage a distribution system with high levels of customer-sited distributed energy resources. This post discusses the various roles and responsibilities of the DSPPs, as envisioned in the REV. 
  • BLM Proposes Competitive Leasing Rule for Public Lands
    October 27, 2014
    The Bureau of Land Management has proposed a new rule to require competitive leasing of public lands for renewable energy development. This post reviews how the rule would change the management of public lands and describes potential problems with the rule.
  • If You Get Too Bright, I’ll Tax The Sun: Solar Rooftop Electricity Exchanges and Potential Income Tax Liability
    October 21, 2014

    A recent Information Letter Request filed by an Austin, Texas homeowner with the IRS could have far-reaching, unanticipated consequences for value of solar tariffs. This post investigates some of those potential ramifications. 

  • Begging to Differ: Federal Courts Strike Down State Contract-for-Difference Schemes
    October 17, 2014
    The Third and Fourth Circuits recently struck down measures in New Jersey and Maryland, respectively, which aimed to promote in-state electricity generation by setting wholesale rates. This post examines the regulations, the courts reasoning, and implications for renewable energy.
  • GEI Submits Comments to Hawaii PUC Regarding HECO Company Plans
    October 17, 2014
    The Green Energy Institute filed comments with the Hawaii PUC regarding the HECO Companies’ Power Supply Improvement Plans (PSIPs) and Distributed Generation Improvement Plan (DGIP). Those comments reflect GEI’s concerns about the utilities’ recommendation to eliminate Hawaii’s Net Metering Program and to adopt fixed charges for distributed generation customers. 
  • Part 6: Community Solar Mise-en-Place
    October 15, 2014
    Part six of this community solar series discusses three necessary ingredients for successful community-initiated solar projects.
  • Better Weather Forecasting Reduces Wind Integration Costs
    October 13, 2014
    The levelized cost of wind energy is currently competitive with the costs of new fossil fuel generating resources. However, integrating intermittent wind energy onto the grid can be challenging. Idaho Power Company’s new Renewables Integration Tool enables the utility to cost-effectively integrate additional wind energy onto the grid at a savings of nearly $100,000 a month.
  • Push and Pull: A Federal Tug of War over Renewable Energy
    October 7, 2014
    Fickle federal policies are sending conflicting signals to renewable energy developers. This post describes those inconsistent signals and argues that the United States should do better.
  • Part 5: Can Securities Exemptions Eliminate Community Solar Obstacles?
    October 6, 2014
    The fifth in a series on community solar, this post assesses the strengths and weaknesses of three recent community solar securities exemptions.
  • Bringing Utilities into the Sun: Measuring and Mitigating PV Impacts
    October 3, 2014
    Electric utilities in the United States are wary of solar power, worrying that accelerating deployment of distributed generation will hurt their bottom lines. This blog post reviews recent efforts to measure utility impacts and to design strategies to maintain utility profitability.
  • Distributed Generation Rate Reform Around the U.S.
    October 1, 2014
    Several states have considered reforms to rates that net metering customers pay. Although state PUCs have generally shown a reluctance to considerably raise those rates, the tide may be turning. This post summarizes notable proposals from around the nation.
  • Part 4: State Community Solar Statutes
    September 30, 2014
    The fourth part in a series on community solar, this post investigates the evolving state trend of engaging utilities in planning community solar projects.
  • HECO Companies Propose Significant Charges for DG Customers
    September 24, 2014
    Hawaii’s Public Utility Commission issued a guidance document recommending rate reforms to better account for distributed generation customers’ use of the electricity system. The HECO Companies, in turn, filed a plan that proposed significant charges and modifications to distributed generation customers’ compensation structure. Though the PUC will not likely approve the plan as written, its ultimate decision could influence energy policy on the mainland.
  • The Growing Economic Case for Renewable Energy
    September 23, 2014
    Renewable energy is increasingly cost-competitive with fossil fuels, inviting investment based purely on its economic, rather than environmental, virtues.
  • Exelon Wind v. Nelson: The Fifth Circuit’s Questionable Legal Analysis
    September 23, 2014
    GEI Staff Attorney Amelia Schlusser discusses the Fifth Circuit’s flawed legal reasoning in Exelon Wind v. Nelson.
  • Melissa Powers, Director of the Green Energy Institute
    The Fifth Circuit Eviscerated PURPA in Texas
    September 23, 2014
    The Green Energy Institute’s Director responds to the recent decision Exelon Wind v. Nelson, in which the Fifth Circuit held that only qualifying facilities generating “firm” renewable power are entitled to enter into long-term contracts under PURPA.
  • Part 3: Virtual Net Metering
    September 22, 2014
    The third in a series on community solar, this post describes how virtual net metering is a key policy for encouraging community-scale renewable energy.
  • 100% Renewable Cities
    September 15, 2014

    Three U.S. cities—Burlington, VT, Greensburg, KS, and Beaverton, OR— are proving that the transition to a 100% renewable power grid is achievable in the near term. 

  • Part 2: Existing Community Solar Models
    September 15, 2014
    The second in a four-part series on community solar power, this post describes four distinct models for community-scale solar development.
  • A Review of a Trio of Federal Bills Promoting Renewable Energy on Federal Lands
    September 13, 2014
    The U.S. House of Representatives is considering three bills to promote renewable energy on federal lands. Two of the bills are good renewable energy policy, while the third needlessly sacrifices important principles of environmental review.
  • Hawaii PUC Envisions Diminished Utility Ownership of Generation Facilities
    September 12, 2014
    Hawaii’s Public Utility Commission envisions a substantially reduced role for electric utilities as owners and operators of generation facilities. The state’s investor-owned utilities, the HECO Companies, did not directly address the PUC’s proposal in their recent Power Supply Improvement Plan filings. The decisions that Hawaii’s PUC makes on the issue might have broad implications for the shape of the electricity industry in the United States in the future.
  • A Call for Strong, Stable Renewable Energy Policy in the United States
    September 6, 2014
    The International Energy Agency projects that an unstable policy framework in developed countries such as the United States may slow the growth of renewable energy. The United States should adopt more stable policies to ensure the growth of renewable energy.
  • Community Solar Introduction
    September 5, 2014

    The first in a four-part series on community solar, this post describes the basic elements of community solar. Later posts will describe existing community solar models, describe projects and obstacles in Oregon, and propose how Oregon can further incentivize community solar.

  • Melissa Powers, Director of the Green Energy Institute
    The Fulbright Begins
    September 3, 2014

    Professor Powers has received a Fulbright Scholarship to study renewable energy policy in Denmark and Spain. This opening blog post discusses the scholarship and her areas of study. 

  • The War Against Renewables
    June 26, 2014
    While pundits and politicians rail against the so-called “war on coal,” the fossil fuel industry and the elected officials they support are quietly launching a war against renewable energy.
  • Withdrawal of Assembly Bill 177 Threatens California’s Renewable Energy Leadership
    February 13, 2014
    California is backing away from a bill that would have strengthened its renewable portfolio standard. This move threatens the state’s leadership on renewable energy policy.