Law Schedule of Classes

NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

Apart from their assigned mod courses, 1L students may only enroll in courses offered as 1L electives. A complete list of these courses can be found on the 1L Elective Listings page. 1L students must use the 1L class number listed on the course description when enrolling.

270.7 sec. 001 - Renewable Energy Law and Policy (Spring 2023)

Instructor: Matthew David Vespa  
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Units: 2
Grading Designation: Graded
Mode of Instruction: In-Person


W 3:35 PM - 5:25 PM
Location: Law 136
From January 11, 2023
To April 19, 2023

Course Start: January 11, 2023
Course End: April 19, 2023
Class Number: 32330

Enrollment info:
Enrolled: 10
Waitlisted: 0
Enroll Limit: 16
As of: 08/24 11:03 PM

The transition of our energy system from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable resources has created a highly dynamic and exciting body of law and policy, with California leading the way on the pace of deployment and clean energy innovation. The goal of the course is to gain sufficient familiarity with applicable statutes, regulations, technical and policy information, as well as experience in the to enable students to advocate effectively before regulatory agencies such as state Public Utilities Commissions on issues related to renewable energy and electrification of fossil-fueled end uses such as gas appliances and combustion vehicles.

This is an experiential learning course. The focus will not only be on understanding the legal foundations of renewable energy law but also developing the practical advocacy and litigation skills necessary to participate in regulatory proceedings such as drafting discovery, cross examination of expert witnesses and ex parte meetings.

Students are expected to be familiar with the basic physical and regulatory design of the U.S. energy system (through, e.g., having worked in the energy industry or taken other basic energy law or policy coursework), or to develop this familiarity independently through recommended reading (which students can complete before or concurrently with taking the class). We will begin this course with a high-level overview of the clean energy landscape and the role of integration of renewable electricity generators into the larger electric grid and the respective roles of California energy agencies in the clean energy transition. Next, we will review dominant forms of renewable energy with a goal of understanding the relative advantages and drawbacks of each.

The heart of the course will be an in-depth examination of various renewable energy promotion policy alternatives, including reviewing laws and regulations associated with each type of policy. These will include: renewable portfolio standards; net energy metering programs; integrated resource plans and voluntary and corporate renewable programs and their environmental integrity. The course will also explore current debates on the role of renewable gas and hydrogen in decarbonization and environmental and social justice considerations associated with renewable energy access and deployment.

Student grades will be based upon participation in classroom discussion and exercises; performance in legal skill development exercises; and a take-home final exam.

Matt Vespa is a senior clean energy attorney at Earthjustice where he primarily practices before the California Public Utilities Commission on environmental matters such as rooftop solar policy, building electrification, opposing new proposed gas plants and pipelines and exposing gas utility obstruction of climate progress. Prior to joining Earthjustice, Matt worked on clean energy-related advocacy at the Sierra Club and at the Center for Biological Diversity where he developed the law and policy related to the analysis of greenhouse gas impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”). Matt also served as a law clerk at the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York for the Honorable Nicholas G. Garaufis. Matt holds a law degree from the U.C. Berkeley School of Law, where he was elected Order of the Coif, a master's in conservation biology from the University of Pennsylvania and a bachelor's in biology from the University of Pennsylvania. Matt was a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay and the recipient of the 2016 Environmental Leadership Award from the Ecology Law Quarterly at U.C. Berkeley School of Law.

Attendance at the first class is mandatory for all currently enrolled and waitlisted students; any currently enrolled or waitlisted students who are not present on the first day of class (without prior permission of the instructor) will be dropped. The instructor will continue to take attendance throughout the add/drop period and anyone who moves off the waitlist into the class must continue to attend or have prior permission of the instructor in order not to be dropped.

Requirements Satisfaction:

Units from this class count towards the J.D. Experiential Requirement.

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Exam Notes: (TH) Take-home examination
Exam Length: 6 hours
Course Category: Environmental and Energy Law

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