McGuireWoods’ Bernard McNamee Quoted on Energy Industry’s Challenges

April 17, 2023

The same environmental law that has been used to stop the development of natural gas pipelines is now being used to hamper the development of electric transmission lines, McGuireWoods Richmond partner and McGuireWoods Consulting senior advisor Bernard McNamee told Infrastructure Investor in an April 5, 2023, story.

McNamee, who served on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission from 2018 to 2020, cited NIMBYism and the use of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) as the heart of the permitting challenges facing energy infrastructure developers.

“NEPA was supposed to be used to require agencies to take a hard look at the impact that the project would have in making their decisions,” McNamee said. “And instead, the courts have provided a private right of action against agency action under NEPA through the Administrative Procedures Act.”

McNamee also was quoted in an April 10 story in DailyEnergyInsider about another challenge facing utilities — uncertainty over the rates state regulators will allow public utilities to charge customers for their service. Many public utilities are seeking permission to raise rates in response to inflation and unusually severe weather events.

“The pressure to keep customer rates low is even stronger during a period of high inflation, but the paradox is that those inflationary pressures are also impacting utilities,” McNamee said. “Utilities need a reasonable return on equity to ensure that they can raise the capital necessary to fund projects that benefit customers.”