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Energy Central Power Perspectives: Energy Law Journal has a New Editor-in-Chief: Energy Central's Interview with Harvey Reiter on his New Role

image credit: Energy Bar Association

The Energy Bar Association (EBA) the premiere association for attorneys, energy professionals, student, and any other parties interested in areas of energy law. Their coverage of energy laws, regulations, and policies takes many forms, but one of the key pieces of valuable output from EBA is its Energy Law Journal. This resource is published twice per year and is advertised to provide "thought-provoking and deeply researched articles by practitioners, internationally known academics, federal judges, high-ranking government officials, and members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)." 

Recently, EBA selected Harvey Reiter to become the new editor-in-chief of the Energy Law Journal. With his wealth of knowledge and his private legal practice, EBA felt that Reiter had the experience necessary to guide the Energy Law Journal into the future, at this particularly critical crossroads of transformation in which the utility industry finds itself. 

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Energy Central had the pleasure to ask a few questions to Reiter about his new role as the Energy Law Journal's new editor-in-chief, the state of energy law today, and how this important field will only gain influence into the future:

 

Matt Chester: To start, can you please give a bit of background about yourself? What's your history in the energy field and why is this a career path you chose?

Harvey Reiter: I had studied economics as an undergraduate and was always interested in competition and the role of markets. During my time in law school, the Supreme Court issued a ruling in the Otter Tail case holding that the antitrust laws applied to electric utilities. It prompted me to take a course in Regulated Industries, a course I know teach at GW Law School, and to apply for a position with the Federal Power Commission, FERC's predecessor. My thinking was that there'd be increasing focus on competition issues at the agency. That assumption largely proved correct and I had the good fortune to work on a range of cases that involved the intersection of utility regulation and antitrust principles. But my opportunities came largely as a result of several Supreme Court decisions that forced a then reluctant agency to address antitrust issues in its decision-making process. When I first started working at the Commission, much of the agency's staff was resistant to the notion that competition had any role to play in either the natural gas or electric industries. The agency's perspective has changed pretty dramatically in the ensuing decades.

 

MC: You've recently been named the editor-in-chief of the Energy Law Journal. Can you describe the importance you see of this role for yourself and your ability to help shape the publication moving forward?

HR: The Energy Law Journal has been around since 1981. It was created by the Energy Bar Association and is one of only a handful of peer-reviewed law journals in the country. My predecessor as Editor-in-Chief, Bob Fleishman, served in that role for nearly 15 years and often described the Journal as the Bar Association's crown jewel. Because I agree with that description, I see my biggest role as preserving the Journal as the leading source of practical scholarship in the field of energy law, regulation, and policy.

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MC: How do you see the Energy Law Journal playing a role in the utility sector at this important moment in the evolution of the industry?

HR: The industry is constantly evolving. Over the years, the Journal has published a wide range of articles addressing real world issues facing the industry, consumers, regulators, and legislators-- the emphasis on practical scholarship that I mentioned. The authors who tackle these issues often have strong points of view and the Journal provides them a platform. But we also demand that those who write for the Journal grapple with and fairly address opposing viewpoints. This approach gives the articles durability and provides readers with fuller picture of the important topics we cover. While we cover topics of current interest, we also make our past articles available to the public without charge. This is a valuable resource that allows readers to place new developments into a full historical perspective. One of the most valuable research tools we provide is access to a wide range of committee reports. These reports-- on electric regulation, natural gas regulation, environmental regulation, nuclear regulation, appellate practices, FERC practice, state commission practice, reliability, etc., provide summaries of major developments in law, regulation, and practice.

 

MC: What topics do you see as most relevant and exciting in the world of energy law over the upcoming few years?

HR: As they say, it is always hard to make accurate predictions, especially about the future. But in the near term, I think it is safe to say that we're likely to see articles on U.S. energy regulation that address the increasing number of intersections between state and federal jurisdiction over electric regulation-- particularly as it relates to issues like integration of renewable energy resources, demand response, electric storage, and distributed generation. Over the last decade or so a significant portion of the articles we've published have also addressed the overlap between traditional energy regulation and environmental law. I expect that climate change-related articles will continue to appear in the Journal's pages. We've also increased our attention to international energy issues, and I believe that readers will continue to benefit from access to articles that provide perspectives on how countries outside the U.S. address issues similar to those arising here. 

 

MC: Are there any legal aspects of the energy industry that professionals in the energy field might overlook or not realize the importance of? What's something that might be surprising?

HR: As a practicing lawyer I probably shouldn't publicize this, but one does not have to be a lawyer to practice before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

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MC: Lastly, if you could share one piece of information or advice with utility professionals more widely surrounding the world of energy law, what might that be?

HR: Read the Energy Law Journal and, if you have a good idea for a scholarly article, contact us.

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