Energy Law and Policy Symposium 2018


Vermont Law School
5th Annual Energy Law and Policy Symposium

Power to the People: Wires, Wind, and Resiliency

October 24, 2018
Eversheds Sutherland (US) LLP
700 6th St. NW, Washington, D.C.





Dan Phillips JD/MSEL'04, Founding Chairman, Vermont Law School Alumni in Energy Affinity Group; President, Backcourt Fuels
Thomas McHenry, President and Dean, Vermont Law School

1:15 P.M. / PANEL 1: Grid Reliability and Resilience

Grid reliability and resilience are critically important to residential and commercial clients as well as to civilian and military governments. Increasingly intense weather events have tested the resilience of the grid and its ability to withstand disruptions from severe weather—the leading cause of power outages. Annual costs of power outages are $25 to $70 billion annually; that does not include costlier outlier years (e.g. Hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, Maria and Irma) and significant indirect costs. In coastal areas, the threat of sea level rise poses costly impacts for residents, businesses, and governments in the coming years. In addition, power disruption has broader implications to other core lifeline sectors, such as transportation, water infrastructure, military and emergency response capabilities. It is difficult to monetize “direct” investment (e.g. repair and replacement) let alone “indirect” costs of system failure. Using rate cases and best practices, these questions will be explored:

  • What metrics are being used by utilities and state commissioners to predict and/or recover from severe weather events?
  • When deciding whether to build more resilience into grid, how do utility planners review the business as a usual “baseline” planning scenario against a resiliency planning scenario (e.g. future) to determine the costs and benefits of various resiliency options? 
  • Are the economic and legal mechanisms in rate makings sufficiently robust to address needed investment given the risks posed to grid reliability?
  • How are these issues playing out in Puerto Rico regarding recovery and reconstruction of the grid due to impacts to Hurricanes Maria and Irma?

Moderator:  Alan Strasser JD/MSL'93, Policy Director/Stakeholder Liaison, American Resilience Project

Reference Materials about Resiliency:


2:30 P.M. / PANEL 2: Offshore Wind and the Intersection of Policy and Permitting

The momentum of offshore wind development in the US is accelerating rapidly, with states putting in place master plans and running auctions to meet ambitious renewable energy targets. At the same time, these efforts risk running headlong into a permitting regime that is still being developed and refined, at both the federal and state levels. We will open this panel by discussing the current state of the market, and proceed to delve into state policy developments intended to accelerate offshore wind and the federal and state permitting frameworks that apply. Topics to be explored by our panelists include the impact of the Trump Administration’s policies regarding streamlined permitting for energy projects, implications of the Jones Act for development and infrastructure and supply chain issues. Examining current offshore development targets and whether they are reasonable in light of the critical path items to reaching commercial operations, we will try to tease out key constraints and their potential solutions.

Moderator: Joshua Belcher JD/MSEL'08



4 p.m. / PANEL 3: Western Market Expansion

This panel will explore the western market expansion, taking a hard look at the Mountain West Transmission Group’s attempt to join SPP, future expansion of the western energy imbalance market (CAISO’s EIM opening up to a day-ahead market) and explore the broader regionalization efforts happening in California. 

Moderator: Josh Walter JD'09


  • Jonathan D. Schneider, Stinson Leonard Street, Partner
  • David Rubin, Federal Regulatory at NV Energy
  • Steve Rodgers, Director, Division of Electric Power Regulation - West


Suedeen Kelly
Suedeen G. Kelly is a partner with Jenner Block and former commissioner with the Federal Regulatory Commission (FERC).





Thank you to our generous sponsors

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