Category Archives: Energy Law

When the Lights Go Out – Black Sky Power Outage Mass Event – Preparedness

What would you do if you didn’t have power for an extended period of time? For one week? For one month? For six months? “EARTH EX” is designed to help you think through this scenario and increase your preparedness.

Leadership and staff from the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC), Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA) and Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Homeland Security today, August 23, 2017, joined with government agencies, utilities, emergency responders and other stakeholders around the world in a first-ever transnational exercise to test responses to a large-scale power outage event.

Today’s Pennsylvania involvement in EARTH EX 2017 is part of a continuing collaboration of public and private sector leaders to strengthen the state’s effort to prepare for “Black Sky” events – defined as extraordinary, wide-reaching events capable of producing power outages that last significantly longer than typical weather or operational outages.

Because of the large-scale nature of Black Sky events, they have the potential to impact not only electricity, but also other critical systems, such as natural gas, water, wastewater treatment, telecommunications and transportation services. These events could be caused by a cyber-attack on the electric grid, severe weather or physical attacks.

“Black Sky events have the potential to disrupt essential services across large areas, impacting the lives of millions of people,” said PUC Chairman Gladys M. Brown. “It is essential that we work collectively to address these threats, because it will require the work of government, private sector and not-for-profit organizations to better safeguard our critical systems, strengthen our response and enhance our ability to recover from Black Sky events.”

“This exercise gives us the opportunity to work with our partners in preparedness, response and recovery to identify ways we can work together more efficiently and effectively in the event of a Black Sky incident,” said PEMA Director Richard D. Flinn, Jr.

“Planning exercises like EARTH EX are a critical part of developing an effective, coordinated response to a Black Sky event,” said Marcus L. Brown, director of Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security. “The lessons learned will help all of the participants prepare for, and recover from, a catastrophic disruption of electricity and other essential services.”

Pennsylvania’s first Black Sky exercise – one of the first in the country – was held in June 2016, hosted by the PUC and Gov. Tom Wolf. Since that time, the PUC, PEMA and the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security have continued to integrate Black Sky planning and practice into broader discussions about emergency response planning.

Today’s EARTH EX exercise, developed by the Electric Infrastructure Security Council (EIS Council), is the first phase of a nearly year-long series of international exercises intended to develop, test and enhance planning and preparation for Black Sky events. EIS Council hosts national and international collaborations on resilience and whole community restoration and response planning, addressing severe, national and global scale hazards to lifeline infrastructures.

If you or your business have legal questions or concerns regarding disaster preparedness, computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices. Learn more about preparedness at EARTH EX 2017.  Tell us how you are preparing in the comments.

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FTC Cybersecurity Roundtables with Small Businesses

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is hosting small business owners in a series of public roundtables across the United States to discuss the most pressing challenges small businesses face in protecting the security of their computers and networks.

Engage, connect, protect - small business & data security roundtablesThe Engage, Connect, and Protect Initiative: Small Business and Data Security Roundtables are part of an ongoing initiative by Acting FTC Chairman Maureen K. Ohlhausen aimed at helping small businesses, which included the launch of a new website in May focused on helping small business owners avoid scams and protect their computers and networks from cyberattacks. There are more than 28 million small businesses nationwide, employing nearly 57 million people, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

“The FTC has been a leader in guiding businesses of all sizes on how to protect the data in their care,” Acting Chairman Ohlhausen said. “Companies with only a few employees face unique challenges when it comes to cybersecurity. We’ll use what we learn in the roundtables to tailor our practical resource materials for small businesses.”

The first roundtable event will take place July 25 in Portland, Oregon, in partnership with the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA), the SBA, and other organizations. This event will be followed by a roundtable discussion in Cleveland, Ohio, on September 6, hosted by the FTC and the Council of Smaller Enterprises and in collaboration with the SBA. Another roundtable event will take place later in September in Des Moines, Iowa, sponsored by the NCSA.

The roundtables will bring together FTC staff along with the SBA and other federal partners, industry associations, and the small business community. The comments and feedback generated by the roundtables will be used to help the FTC and its partners provide additional education and guidance for small business owners on cybersecurity issues.

If you or your business have questions or concerns regarding fraud, computer law, privacy, or cybersecurity law matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices.

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Central PA Residents & Businesses Switching to 10-Digit Dialing in ‘717’ Area Code in August

puc_sealThe Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today reminded residents and businesses across Central Pennsylvania served by the 717 area code of the upcoming switch to 10-digit dialing for all local calls – in preparation for the activation of a new “overlay” area code, which will serve the entire region.

According to the implementation schedule for the “223” overlay area code, mandatory 10-digit dialing for all local calls will begin on Aug. 26, 2017. Starting on that date, if callers only dial a seven-digit number, they will reach a recorded announcement instructing them to hang up and redial the number using the area code plus the seven-digit number.

For the past several months, telephone callers in the 16-county 717 service area have been encouraged to voluntarily use 10-digit dialing (717 + the full local telephone number). The new 223 overlay area was approved based on forecasts that the remaining supply of available telephone numbers in the 717 area code was close to exhaustion.

According to Neustar, Inc., the neutral third party area code relief planner for Pennsylvania, the dialing plan for the 717/223 area code is as follows:

  • Local & Toll calls from the 717/223 area to other numbers inside the 717/223 area:
    Dial 10-digits (717 or 223 + XXX-XXXX)
  • Local & Toll Calls from the 717/223 area to numbers in another area code:
    Dial 1 + 10-Digits (1 + XXX-XXX-XXXX)
  • Operator Services (Credit card, collect, third party):
    Dial 0 + 10-digit (0 + XXX-XXX-XXXX)

The PUC’s Order approving the overlay plan specifies that any new numbers for the 223 overlay area code shall not be released until Sept. 26, 2017, and that requests for numbers in the 717 area code will continue to be honored as long as resources are available.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with telecommunications law and PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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PA Gas Drilling Impact Fees Total Distribution Tops $1 Billion

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today (June 15, 2017) posted detailed information about this year’s distribution of Impact Fees on natural gas producers, totaling $173,258,900, on the PUC’s interactive Act 13 website.puc_seal

Over the past six years, the PUC has collected and distributed more than $1.2 billion in Impact Fees to communities across Pennsylvania.

County and municipal governments directly affected by drilling will receive a total of $93,128,340 for the 2016 disbursement year. Additionally, $62,085,600 will be placed into the Marcellus Legacy Fund, which provides financial support for environmental, highway, water and sewer projects, rehabilitation of greenways and other projects throughout the state. Also, $18 million will be distributed to state agencies specified by the Act.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy law and PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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Are You Starting the Next “Uber”?

puc_sealAs part of an ongoing effort to address changes in the transportation industry, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today encouraged concerned parties to submit comments regarding proposed changes to the Commission’s regulations governing the motor carrier industry.

The comments submitted in response to the Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking will be used in the PUC’s reexamination of motor carrier regulations, including businesses that transport passengers, property and household goods – as part of an effort to ensure that the transportation industry in Pennsylvania operates safely and also continues to innovate. In recent years, the oversight of these industries has evolved, in response to changes in federal law as well as market forces.

Possible topics for comment include:

  • The regulation of property carriers.
  • The regulation of group and party carriers.
  • Insurance requirements.
  • Safety requirements.
  • Fuel surcharges.
  • Fines and assessments.
  • The granting of provisional authority.
  • Web-based training for new and current carriers.
  • Various Commission General Orders, Policy Statements and guidelines for transportation utilities.
  • Any other specific considerations.

 

The comments should be submitted within 60 days of the publication of the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in the Pennsylvania Bulletin.

Comments should include references to sections of the Commission’s current regulations. They should also provide a rationale for the proposed change and include specific proposed language for changes to the regulations.  Reference Docket No. L-2017-2604692. Rulemaking for Title 52 – Regulation of Motor Carriers of Passengers and Property.

Previously, the Commission approved updated regulations intended to reduce barriers for passenger carriers and moving companies.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy, real estate, transportation or other PUC matters including preparation and filing of comments, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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PUC Announces Appointments to Consumer Advisory Council

puc_sealThe Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today announced a series of appointments to its Consumer Advisory Council (CAC), which provides input to the PUC on issues important to utility customers. Members of the CAC will serve two-year terms, from July 1, 2017, through June 30, 2019.  Included are several representatives from our area.  Congratulations all!

New CAC members include:

 

  • Sonny Popowsky, former Pennsylvania Consumer Advocate (serving from 1990 to 2012), brings an extensive state and national background in consumer and utility issues. Popowsky, of Philadelphia, was appointed to the CAC by Gov. Tom Wolf.
  • Christopher M. Winters Sr., of Wernersville, Berks County, has experience in legislative affairs, constituent services, research and public relations. Winters was appointed by Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone, Minority Chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee.

Additionally, the Commission ratified the reappointment of the following CAC members:

  • Troy T. Geanopulos, founder of several energy efficiency companies over the past 20 years, is currently the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Efficiency Network (TEN), a tech-enabled provider of building efficiency services headquartered in Pittsburgh. Geanopulos was reappointed by Lt. Gov. Mike Stack.
  • Ralph G. Douglass, of Bensalem, Bucks County, was reappointed by Sen. Robert M. Tomlinson (R-Bucks), the Majority Chairman of the Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. Douglass is semi-retired from service as President of PECA Inc., an electronics design and manufacturing firm. Douglass current serves as chairman of the CAC.
  • Javier R. Toro, of Fountain Hill, Lehigh County, was appointed by Sen. Lisa M. Boscola (D-Lehigh), the Minority Chair of the Senate Consumer Protection and Professional Licensure Committee. He is a Customer Care Supervisor for the Community Action Committee of the Lehigh Valley, and also is responsible for weatherization.
  • George J. Silvestri Jr., of Souderton, Montgomery County, was reappointed by Rep. Robert W. Godshall (R-Montgomery), the Majority Chairman of the House Consumer Affairs Committee. Silvestri is an author and a retired engineer in the Power Generation Division of the Westinghouse Electric Corp.

The PUC also reappointed the following at-large members of the CAC:

  • Lillian Carpenter, a retired educator from Pittsburgh, a former member of the Pittsburgh Board of Education, and a member of the Board of Directors for the Pittsburgh Homeless Children’s Education Fund.
  • Patrick M. Cicero, Director of the Pennsylvania Utility Law Project (PULP), a statewide legal aid office, based on Harrisburg, that serves low-income households in utility and energy matters. He is a resident of Mechanicsburg, Cumberland County.
  • Timothy B. Hennessey is a licensed insurance agent with Advantage Insurance in Pottstown, Montgomery County, and owner of Phoenix Festival Productions, an event-planning company in North Coventry Township, Chester County.  Hennessey currently serves as vice chairman of the CAC.
  • Chad Quinn, of Lawrence County, is Chief Executive Officer of Pittsburgh-based Dollar Energy Fund, which works to improve the quality of life for households experiencing hardships by providing utility assistance and other services that lead to self-sufficiency.
  • Dr. Tina M. Serafini, a professor, curriculum designer/consultant and trainer for T.M. Serafini & Associates LLC, and a resident of Clearfield.
  • Joseph E. Toner III, Chairman of the Uwclan Township Board of Supervisors and President of the Chester County Association of Township Officials.

The Consumer Advisory Council advises the PUC Commissioners on matters related to the protection of consumer interests under the jurisdiction of the PUC. Council meetings are held bimonthly and are open to the public. Members serve without compensation.

Prince Law Offices, P.C. thanks each member for your service.  To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with energy, real estate, or PUC matters including representation in rate cases, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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New Wind Power Project for Pennsylvania

June 12, 2017, the Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. took an important step towards its commitment to 100 percent renewable energy for the firm’s global electricity needs. It has signed a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, which will add new renewable energy capacity to the electricity grid.

The agreement will enable the investment and development of a new 68 megawatt wind project in Pennsylvania and is anticipated to facilitate up to 150 construction jobs and result in the reduction of more than 200,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per annum once operational.

“We are committed to being a leader in the development of renewable energy,” said Lloyd C. Blankfein, chairman and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs. “By enabling this new wind project to come online, the agreement will help grow the renewable grid and contribute to the momentum behind a lower carbon economy.”

“We are pleased to advance our partnership with Goldman Sachs and help it achieve its renewable energy goals,” said Armando Pimentel, president and chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Resources, the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and the sun. “This partnership demonstrates how forward-looking companies like Goldman are re-thinking their energy use, and leading the way with their investment in low-cost, clean energy that is both good for the country and good for their customers.”

Goldman Sachs is a member of the RE100 initiative as part of its commitment to increasing awareness and in support of global best practices for renewable energy procurement.  RE100 includes 96 leading corporates committed to 100 percent renewable energy. Goldman Sachs is also a member of the Business Renewables Center, which seeks to accelerate corporate purchasing of renewable energy.

To learn how Prince Law Offices, P.C. can assist you or your business with renewable energy projects, PJM interconnection, real estate, business, FERC, or PUC matters, contact attorney Jeffrey A. Franklin at Prince Law Offices, P.C.

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