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State and Federal Energy Policy within a Regulatory Environment

12:55       Welcome and Introductions

1:00         North Carolina Clean Energy Policy and Regulatory Implementation after House Bill 589

Layla Cummings, North Carolina Utilities Commission – Public Staff, Raleigh
Benjamin W. "Ben" Smith, North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association, Raleigh

House Bill 589 was major comprehensive state energy legislation passed in 2017. In this session, we discuss the transition to an RFP process to procure utility scale solar in the State under the Competitive Procurement of Renewable Energy Program; options for large customers to procure renewable energy pursuant to the Green Source Advantage Program; community solar; solar leasing for customers; and a rebate program to incentivize solar adoption across the State. Also learn what issues and challenges remain in the implementation of the legislation as renewable energy grows in the State.

2:00         Break

2:10        Federal Energy and Environmental Law Developments

Jeffery S. "Jeff" Dennis, Advanced Energy Economy, Washington, DC

The Biden administration is expected to bring dramatic and sweeping changes to the nation's energy and environmental laws and policies. Biden's campaign platform included major commitments to fully decarbonize the electricity grid by 2035, reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector, and make major federal investments in advanced energy and transportation technologies. The new administration's efforts to follow through on these commitments will involve not just proposals for new legislation in Congress, but also new regulations and new approaches to implementing existing laws like the Federal Power Act and the Clean Air Act, as well as litigation to defend these regulatory efforts and reverse the Trump administration's environmental rollbacks. This session provides an update on energy and environmental law developments in the first month of the new administration, and looks ahead, with a focus on the regulatory initiatives that key agencies like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are expected to pursue.

3:10         Break

3:20         Making Access to Essential Public Utility Service Truly Universal: A Practical Look at Energy Equity and Justice

David L. Neal, Southern Environmental Law Center, Chapel Hill

Public utilities have the obligation to serve all customers within their exclusive service territory. But what happens when a family cannot afford the power bill? Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the imposition of late fees and disconnections for nonpayment were routine. Families living at or near the poverty line face daunting challenges affording utilities along with other essentials like rent, food and transportation. The number of households with unsustainable energy burdens far outstrip available resources for bill-payment assistance or bill-saving energy efficiency upgrades. In this session, we consider options for making electric utility service affordable to all under the existing North Carolina regulatory framework.

4:20         Adjourn

Thank you

Thank you for joining us for State and Federal Energy Policy within a Regulatory Environment.


  • Layla Cummings

    Layla Cummings attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she earned her B.S. in Biology. She worked at LabCorp in RTP before returning to UNC and earning a J.D. in 2012. Since graduating law school, Layla has served in various roles in state government. She worked as a policy advisor at the Department of Environmental Quality, where she assisted the Environmental Management Commission in developing oil and gas rules and a wind permitting program. She then served at the General Assembly as a staff attorney for the Legislative Analysis Division and was committee counsel to the House Energy and Public Utilities Committee where she helped facilitate the Energy Stakeholder process that led to the passage of House Bill 589. Today, Layla is a staff attorney for the Public Staff, a state agency that protects the interests of the using and consuming public. At the Public Staff, Layla works on the implementation of renewable energy programs and policies, grid modernization, and electric transportation issues, among other issues affecting North Carolina ratepayers.

    Click here for more information about Layla.

  • Jeffery S. "Jeff" Dennis

    Jeffery S. "Jeff" Dennis leads Advanced Energy Economy's work to increase wholesale electricity market access for advanced energy technologies and provides legal advice and counsel to all of AEE's programs. Jeff is a nationally recognized expert in energy law and policy at the federal and state level, and a frequent author and speaker. Before joining AEE, Jeff spent over a decade at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, holding senior positions including Director of Policy Development and Legal Advisor to a Commissioner. Jeff has also been a lawyer in private practice representing clients in proceedings before FERC, state public utility commissions, and in the courts. He received a B.A. from Marymount University (VA) and a J.D. from the University of New Mexico.

    Click here for more information about Jeff.

  • David L. Neal

    David L. Neal is a senior attorney with the Southern Environmental Law Center, where he focuses on clean energy and environmental justice. Prior to joining SELC, he had a career in indigent criminal defense work. David is the co-founder and former executive director of the Fair Trial Initiative, a non-profit that worked to improve the quality of representation received by people facing the death penalty. David serves on the boards of the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation and Repairers of the Breach. He completed his undergraduate degree at Oberlin College and law degree at UNC School of Law in Chapel Hill. Before law school, David worked as a Peace Corps volunteer in Turkmenistan.

    Click here for more information about David.

  • Benjamin W. "Ben" Smith

    Benjamin W. "Ben" Smith is North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association's Regulatory Counsel in Raleigh, NC. Ben works to advance clean energy policies at the North Carolina Utilities Commission and other state and federal legal venues. On a day-to-day basis, he provides NCSEA with legal analysis of clean energy policy, utility regulations, and all other government affairs involving clean energy and related litigation.

    Ben graduated from Indiana University in 2006 with undergraduate degrees in English and Journalism before obtaining a juris doctor degree from Saint Louis University School of Law in 2009. Ben is licensed in Illinois, Missouri and North Carolina and is also licensed to practice in various federal courts including the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals.

    Click here for more information about Ben.

February 22, 2021
Mon 12:55 PM EST

Duration 3H 25M

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