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At NECPUC: Takeaways from the Annual Symposium

At the end of May, Verrill Dana attorneys James Cohen, William Harwood, Geoffrey Why, Katie Gray, and Brian Marshall attended the 71st New England Conference of Public Utilities Commissioners (NECPUC) Annual Symposium at the Cliff House in Cape Neddick, Maine. The conference sessions covered a range of topics, from net neutrality to the future of the power grid to electric vehicles in New England to natural gas safety, and featured special guests Maine Governor Paul LePage and, via video address, Senator Angus King.

The following are key takeaways from this year’s NECPUC symposium:

  • During the first morning session of the conference on May 21, attendees heard a panel comprised of ISO New England (ISO-NE) CEO and President Gordon Van Welie, NEPOOL Reliability Committee Chairman Bob Stein, and a PUC commissioner from each of the New England states.  The panel discussed a recent reliability report from ISO-NE suggesting that, unless policy changes were made, the region might experience rolling blackouts by 2024. The panel reflected strong divisions among parties regarding the conclusions reached by ISO-NE, and the best path forward.
  • Governor LePage addressed the conference during a luncheon speech on Tuesday, May 22. Governor LePage strongly urged New England’s energy and political leaders to come together to build the infrastructure necessary to allow abundant low-priced natural gas to reach New England.  The Governor further noted that such infrastructure was essential to keeping the lights on in New England, as suggested in ISO-NE’s recent reliability study, and to lowering energy costs for businesses and residents.
  • Maine Public Utilities Commission Chair Mark Vannoy presented the George Dunn Award to commission staff who are working together across states to adopt best practices for responding to customer concerns.

For more information on public utilities in New England, contact a member of Verrill Dana’s Energy Group. Stay tuned for the second edition of the Verrill Dana Energy and Utilities Group’s book, Maine Regulation of Public Utilities, available this summer.

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