This seminar focuses on the practical application of core and extended legal principles applicable to the electric, natural gas, and oil transportation industries. We will address challenges associated with the formation and implementation of energy policy by examining regulatory reforms and judicial decisions that continue to shape investment and operations. Taking a holistic approach that embraces financial, technological, and environmental factors, we will explore efforts to enhance the touchstones of fairness, efficiency, reliability, adequacy, and enforcement in domestic energy industries.
Several key statutes form the framework of energy law, including the Federal Power and Natural Gas Acts. We will extend a survey of the organic development of these statutes to the policy framework the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has devised to achieve national goals. Foundational constitutional guideposts such as the Commerce Clause and Federalism will frame discussions while cost of service ratemaking, market-based rates, and market manipulation, with case examples and attendant legal principles, will be introduced. Diverse doctrines such as Mobile-Sierra and Chevron, among others, are considered to explore their impacts in areas such as wholesale price formation and agency initiatives, respectively.
By discussing norms of agency practice, we help students gain insight into current and evolving practices along the production-transmission-distribution continuum. Introduction and analysis of smart grid, demand response, low carbon goals, and other recent developments will be presented to connect current regulatory preoccupations to new challenges. Concepts such as cost causation and undue preference will be studied in contemporaneous contexts to convey the dynamics of rapidly evolving technologies, industry economics, and politics. In sum, the seminar’s emphasis on the practical application of energy law concepts will help students spot issues and assess controversies in the energy sphere.
The seminar will include two practical oral exercises, wherein students will prepare and present argument or negotiation positions in a mock setting and receive feedback on performance. The second exercise will be graded. There is no final examination; students will write a final paper on an energy law topic of their choice. Schedules permitting, there will be a visit to FERC and discussion with Commission staff. Grades will be based on class participation, the second practical oral exercise, and the final paper.
This seminar does not fulfill the Upperclass Legal Writing Requirement.