State & Federal Jurisdiction over Energy & Telecommunications Services: Who’s Authority Prevails?

Event Description

A plated lunch is included with the registration fee.  Pre-registration is required. 

Deadline to Register:  Tuesday, March 22, 2016 

Please join us as our speakers tackle the complex and evolving topics of federal preemption of energy resources used to serve electricity needs in the State of Minnesota, and how last-generation regulatory concepts may limit state authority over next generation communications technology.    


Federal Preemption of Energy Resource Selection
State renewable portfolio standards and other laws enacted to promote renewable resources or limit carbon-emitted resources, have long been used as a means to craft individual state energy policy.  However, recent cases have cast the spotlight on whether states can enact laws to restrict certain resources used to serve the electricity needs within their state. 

  • Harvey Reiter, Partner, Stinson Leonard Street, Washington DC office, will offer a brief primer on the Dormant Commerce Clause and how it applies in analyzing the constitutionality of state renewable portfolio standards. State laws may violate the Dormant Commerce Clause if they discriminate against out-of-state or foreign commerce, if they regulate commerce extraterritorially, or even if neutral in intent or effect, if they place an excessive burden on interstate commerce. The “buy local” preference found in approximately three-fourths of state renewable portfolio laws may not only be unconstitutional, but may actually serve as an impediment to state efforts to promote renewable resources.  Mr. Reiter addresses these limitations, the discretion left to state and local governments to promote local industries, and how the dormant Commerce Clause can be seen as a consumer safeguard in achieving renewables goals, rather than an impediment.

  • Thomas C. Boyd, Shareholder, Winthrop & Weinstine, Minneapolis, will discuss the recent case of North Dakota v. Heydinger.  This case reviews the application of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act, which mandated that no person could construct a new “large energy facility” in Minnesota that would contribute to statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions, and that no person could import or agree to import power from a new large energy facility outside the state that would contribute to statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions. The statute also provided that no person could enter into a “new long-term power purchase agreement that would increase statewide power sector carbon dioxide emissions” without offsetting those emissions to the satisfaction of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission.  The U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota struck down the prohibition, finding that it violated the Dormant Commerce Clause by regulating electricity generators and utilities outside the state.  The case is now on appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. 

Federal Preemption in the Regulation of Voice Over Internet Protocol (“VOIP”) Service
For many years, state public utilities commissions and the Federal Communications Commission have shared responsibility for regulation of telecommunications.  However, technological advances that have made possible the high speed transmission of data over the Internet have also blurred the lines that have been traditionally used to determine whether a call is subject to state or federal regulation.  State public utilities commissions, the FCC, and the courts have all been grappling with these issues arising from the intersection of law, public policy, and technology in an attempt to apply last generation regulatory concepts to next generation communications. 

A plated lunch will be served in the Atrium at Noon. The CLE program starts at 1:00 p.m. in Classroom MSL 446.

The Public Utilities Section will validate parking at the Harmon Place ramp (on 11th and Harmon) . The parking ramp is #5 on the map and the law school is #4.

CLE Credit: 

3.25 Standard CLE credits approved|  Event Code: 216320  


Public Utilities Law Section:  $55.00
MSBA Member but not a member of the Public Utilities Section:  $55.00
Non-MSBA Members:  $55.00
Law Students:  Free (Limited to 15 law students) 

Join the Public Utilities Section:   MSBA members who are not members of the section can click here to add the section to your membership.

Remote Participation: 

Remote attendance is not available. 

Registration Instructions:

Click the register button at the bottom of this page.  Law students will need a profile to use online registration.  If you have not yet created one with the MSBA, click the Register button and then click the Sign Up button on the Log In page. (Note that you will not be joining the MSBA, only creating a profile to register.

To register with a check, please mail in this registration form.

Need to cancel? Please see our cancellation policy.

Want more information about the Public Utilities Section?

Questions? Contact Sue Bores | 612-278-6325

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Pre-Registration is Closed

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

12:00 PM to 4:45 PM

Classroom MSL 446 / University of St. Thomas Minneapolis, MN United States