MORGANTOWN – Students and the general public were invited to examine the role of the state in energy sustainability at the the recent seventh annual National Energy Sustainability Moot Court competition at West Virginia University.

At the event, students were asked to argue a mock legal problem involving a state’s attempt to subsidize electricity generators using a fuel source, like coal, in an effort to strengthen the local economy.

The situation looked at whether the issue affected interstate commerce or federal regulation of electricity prices.

Organizers said they originally started up the event because “There was no existing national moot court competition that focused on the intersection of energy and sustainability issues, and we wanted to fill that void,” WVU Professor Jamie Van Nostrand told The West Virginia Record in an email.

“It provides the WVU College of Law with national exposure for its energy and sustainability program,” Van Nostrand wrote. “Over the seven years of the competition's existence, we have had over 25 law schools from throughout the country participate in our competition. That promotes the school's reputation, and establishes our energy and sustainability program as one of the leading such programs in the country.”

He also said that the event has grown from six teams in 2011 to 24 teams in 2016. Van Nostrand said there were only 20 teams this year primarily due to financial issues at law schools.

“We consistently receive very positive feedback about the quality of our competition, and several schools enthusiastically return every year, with some schools sending more than one team,” he said.

The team from the University of North Carolina was the winner this year.

Van Nostrand said that in addition to the competition, they also held a banquet with a guest speaker that discusses the issue with competitors.

“This year, the banquet speaker was Stephen Nelson, the COO of Longview Power, whose remarks related to the challenges of operating in the competitive wholesale electricity markets, which related to the issues argued by the competitors in this year's competition,” he explained.

The majority of the event took place at the WVU Erickson Alumni Center with the final round held on March 18 in the Marlyn E. Lugar Courtroom in the College of Law.

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