Legal Challenges of PURPA and FERC

May 30, 2017

What are the legal issues around new proposed subsidies for nuclear and coal plants? What are the new ways in which the authority of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has to be distinguished from the authority of the states? Are states with economically challenged power generators sliding toward unintentional re-regulation, or will FERC and the courts step in to protect structured markets? And why is PURPA, the federal law that has undergirded renewable procurement since 1978, under fresh attack? In this episode, we explore these deep, dark, yet important and very contemporary legal questions with a Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative. In addition to our deep dive on PURPA and around-market reforms, we’ll also discuss some of the likely implications of Trump’s new direction in energy policy, implications for the Clean Power Plan, and how the federal government’s leadership role on climate might be changing.

Geek rating: 4

Guest: Ari Peskoe is a Senior Fellow in Electricity Law at the Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative.  He has written extensively about electricity regulation, on issues ranging from rooftop solar to Constitutional challenges to states’ energy laws. His most recent article, which is on FERC’s legal authority to integrate state renewable energy and carbon emission goals into wholesale electricity markets, will appear in the spring 2017 issue of The Energy Law Journal.

On Twitter: @AriPeskoe

On the Web:  Harvard Law School Environmental Policy Initiative


Recording date: April 28, 2017

Air date: May 17, 2017


Teaser photo credit: By YellowForester – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

Chris Nelder

Chris is an energy analyst, journalist, and investor, who consults and lectures on energy investing and policy. During a decade of studying energy, he has written two books on investing and energy Profit from the Peak and Investing in Renewable Energy, as well as over 900 blog posts and articles.

Tags: American energy policy, Electricity, electricity grid, renewable energy transition