FERC Initiates Proposed Rulemaking Affecting Interconnection Facilities

During today's open meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a proposed rulemaking that impacts the owners of gen-tie lines, particularly those owners who are developing multi-phase projects that require priority to interconnection capacity to support future phases.  The proposed rule would ease existing FERC policies that treated gen-tie lines just like any other transmission facility and required owners to make interconnection capacity available to third parties if the owner could not provide enough documentation proving its planned use of the gen-tie lines.

FERC has proposed the following:

  • Gen-tie line owners will be granted a blanket waiver from the requirement to (x) maintain a transmission tariff and OASIS and (y) comply with the standards of conduct.  FERC will revoke that blanket waiver only when it is in the public interest to do so, and not simply when a third party requests transmission service over a gen-tie line.
  • Third parties seeking to interconnect with existing gen-tie lines will be required to do so using the rules and regulations applicable to service requests under sections 210 and 211 of the Federal Power Act.
  • Gen-tie owners who are eligible for the blanket waiver from maintaining a tariff, etc., will be granted a 5-year safe harbor period giving the owner the benefit of a rebuttable presumption that (1) the owner has plans to use the gen-tie line's capacity, and (2) the owner should not be required to expand its facilities.  Third parties would have an opportunity to rebut that presumption, but those third parties would have the burden of proof.  FERC proposes that the 5-year period would begin on the gen-tie energization date.  Gen-tie owners would also be required to make an informational filing with FERC in order to take advantage of the safe harbor rights.
  • Lastly, FERC has asked whether the affiliates of public utility transmission provider should receive the benefit of the proposed rules.  

The proposed rulemaking is available here:  Gen-Tie Rulemaking

Comments are due by 60 days after publication of the proposed rule in the Federal Register.  Please let us know if you have questions about the proposed rulemaking and/or would like to submit comments to FERC.

 

Qualifying Facility Conversions - It's What All the Kids Are Talking About

Converting a qualifying facility's legacy PURPA interconnection agreement to a FERC-jurisdictional agreement can be an effective way to bypass the numbing headache that often accompanies taking a new power generation project through the interconnection queue.  One may even be able to throw in a repower and, voila!, you have a refreshed facility that can operate for decades more in broader bilateral power markets without having years of interconnection delay.  

But there are ins-and-outs to these conversions, and today FERC addressed the question of whether a qualifying facility owner may necessarily convert the capacity that's stated in its PURPA interconnection agreement.  For qualifying facility owners--it isn't the answer you wanted.  

See FERC's order by following this link:  CalWind Order.

Army Pre-Qualifies Biomass Developers Under MATOC

On September 23, 2013, the U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama, acting in conjunction with the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force, issued its final round of awards under the multi-award task order contract for renewable and alternative energy issued last summer (Solicitation Number W912DY-11-R-0036, the “MATOC”). The Army received 52 proposals in the biomass category under the MATOC and awarded thirteen (13) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts to developers in the space, four (4) of which were to small businesses. The EITF press release can be found here. Awards in the geothermal, wind, and solar categories were made earlier this year. 

As pre-qualification under the MATOC wraps up, it is important to remember that the MATOC is not the only contracting vehicle that the Department of Defense is using to construct large-scale renewable energy projects. While public attention has largely been drawn to the MATOC, the Army, Navy, and the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”)-Energy have been pushing forward with specific procurements and requests for information at places like Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Fort Irwin in California, Fort Detrick in Maryland, and NAWS China Lake in California. 

Army Pre-Qualifies Biomass Developers Under MATOC

On September 23, 2013, the U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama, acting in conjunction with the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force, issued its final round of awards under the multi-award task order contract for renewable and alternative energy issued last summer (Solicitation Number W912DY-11-R-0036, the “MATOC”). The Army received 52 proposals in the biomass category under the MATOC and awarded thirteen (13) indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contracts to developers in the space, four (4) of which were to small businesses. The EITF press release can be found here. Awards in the geothermal, wind, and solar categories were made earlier this year. 

As pre-qualification under the MATOC wraps up, it is important to remember that the MATOC is not the only contracting vehicle that the Department of Defense is using to construct large-scale renewable energy projects. While public attention has largely been drawn to the MATOC, the Army, Navy, and the Defense Logistics Agency (“DLA”)-Energy have been pushing forward with specific procurements and requests for information at places like Fort Huachuca in Arizona, Fort Irwin in California, Fort Detrick in Maryland, and NAWS China Lake in California. 

Army Seeks Feedback on Standardized Performance Work Statement for Renewable Energy Projects

On April 1, 2013, the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force (“EITF”) and the U.S. Army Mission and Installation Contracting Command at Fort Sam Houston in Texas published a template Renewable Energy Service Agreement Performance Work Statement (the “PWS”) for comment by interested stakeholders. 

The proposed scope of the PWS is broad, covering everything from insurance and OSHA requirements to interconnection responsibilities and power prices. Thus, the PWS purports to be part power purchase agreement, part EPC agreement, and part operations and maintenance agreement. As discussed in my previous entry, this comment opportunity is important to all renewable energy developers that intend to contract with the Army. However, it should be of particular interest to teams that responded to the Army’s Multi-Award Task Order Contract (“MATOC”) last fall because the final PWS will likely be incorporated into each base-level RFP issued under the MATOC.

It is important to note that the template is not a “one-size-fits-all” document and contemplates quite a bit of input from individual bases at the time RFPs are issued. Thus, the PWS is malleable and the comments the Army receives through this request for information will not result in a final form of PWS that will be incorporated into every contract issued. Rather, the Army is looking for input to create a “clear, concise and understandable” PWS template that will reduce the need for discussion and clarification of provisions common to all contracts down the line. 

For more information, attend the EITF webinar on April 11, 2013 from 1:00-2:00 p.m. EST.  see Solicitation No. W9124J13EITF1, which can be found on the FedBizOpps website. To register for the webinar, go to https://www4.gotomeeting.com/register/518667447. Registration is limited to the first 500 participants.

As was the case with the MATOC, comments and questions must be submitted via Bidder Inquiry on the ProjNet website (https://www.projnet.org). Comments must be submitted no later than 5:00 p.m. EST on May 29, 2013

Army to Seek Comments on Standardized Performance Work Statement for Renewable Energy Projects

On February 12, 2013, the U.S. Army Contracting Command announced that the Army Energy Initiatives Task Force ("EITF") is developing a standardized Utility Service Contract Performance Work Statement ("PWS") to be used for contracts executed under its long-term power procurement authority (10 U.S.C. 2922a).  The intent is to have a PWS that is clear and understandable to both the renewable energy industry and the government.  The EITF intends to publish a draft utility service contract solicitation at the end of this month-i.e., on or about March 29.  Once published, they will accept comments for 60 days.

This comment opportunity will be important to all renewable energy developers that intend to contract with the Army, but it will be especially important for teams that responded to the Army's Multi-Award Task Order Contract ("MATOC") last fall.  The comments received through this solicitation will likely be incorporated into the PWS that is included in base-level RFPs issued under the MATOC.  And interestingly, the timing lines up pretty well.  Assuming that the draft PWS is issued at the end of March (like the EITF anticipates), then comments will be due at the end of May.  Last year, the Army was saying that it would announce awardees under the MATOC at (or near) the end of Q2 2013.  If that goal becomes a reality, then the comment period on the draft PWS will close one month prior to awards under the MATOC, which would ostensibly give the Army enough time to incorporate the revised language into any base-level RFPs that would follow quickly on the heels of the MATOC awards.

For more information, see Solicitation No. W9124J13EITF1, which can be found on the FedBizOpps website.

Fort Drum Biomass RFP Update

On December 12, 2012, the Defense Logistics Agency- Energy ("DLA-Energy") published a solicitation for a 15-28 MW biomass facility to be located at the U.S. Army's Fort Drum in New York (Solicitation No. SP0600-13-R-0401).  The procurement will be conducted and negotiated pursuant to the Department of Defense's authority to enter into long-term power purchase agreements under 10 U.S.C. 2922a. 

In this case, DLA-Energy anticipates entering into a firm fixed price requirements contract with a term between 10 and 25 years and the solicitation states explicitly that "the Government will only consider costs that do not exceed the equivalent of $0.056/kWh compounded annually at 4.88%."  Thus, the ceiling is set and bidders should take that into account when analyzing their business case for a proposal.

Last Friday, DLA-Energy announced that registration is now open for the pre-proposal conference, which will take place at the Dulles State Office Building in Watertown, New York on January 24, 2013, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. EST.  Attendees will be provided an overview of the potential project, a site tour, and an opportunity for Q&A about the solicitation.  Solicitation proposals are due no later than 3:00 p.m. on March 15, 2013. 

View and download the Solicitation.

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Congress Passes Extension and Modification of Production Tax Credit

News reports have already alerted people to the fact that Congress has extended the Production Tax Credit ("PTC") for wind as part of its agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff. The bill - named the American Tax Relief Act of 2012 - extended the sunset date for wind through December 31, 2013. This extension gives wind parity with all other renewable resources covered by the PTC.

What hasn't been as widely reported, however, is that Congress also made a significant modification to the PTC as part of the same provision.

Previously, whether a facility qualified for the PTC depended on when the facility was placed in service for federal income tax purposes. That provision has now been changed so that a facility will qualify for the PTC if construction with respect to the facility begins on or before January 1, 2014. This change applies to all renewables (biomass, marine and hydrokinetic, landfill gas, trash, hydropower) to which the PTC applies (not just wind), with the exception of refined coal and Indian coal. In other words, there is no longer a placed in service deadline for purposes of the PTC if construction begins before January 1, 2014.

For those of you acquainted with the 1603 grant, this "begun construction" requirement will seem very familiar. However, caution is required. First, the 1603 grant was administered by Treasury Department whereas the PTC will be administered by the IRS. The Treasury Department was generally viewed as favorably disposed to 1603 applicants. Second, we do not yet know how the IRS will interpret the term "begun construction." There is no requirement that the IRS interpret it consistently with section 1603. We do know, however, that the IRS included a 10% safe harbor as part of the bonus depreciation regulations (Treas. Reg. 1.168(k)-1(b)(4)(iii)(B)(2)), so it is possible that they may provide a safe harbor for the PTC as well.

It is also important to note that, along with extension and modification of the PTC, the legislation extended for one year the ability of taxpayers to elect the ITC in lieu of the PTC.

The modification of the PTC will likely make 2013 an interesting year, particularly as developers attempt to meet the "begun construction" requirements (however that term is eventually defined). If the IRS gives developers a safe harbor of some sort, it will be essential that they avoid the last minute, year-end rush we experienced in 2011 as we worked to qualify projects (mostly solar) for the “begun construction” requirements of the 1603 grant. A key gating item may well be the extent to which utilities seek to procure wind and other renewable energy is Qs1-2, 2013.

We will keep you apprised of further developments and insights.

In the meantime, should you have any questions, please contact Kevin Pearson, Adam Kobos, Carl Lewis, Greg Jenner or any other Stoel Rives attorney.

Army Announces Forthcoming RFP for Biomass Energy

From my colleague Chad Marriott, who is attending the RETECH 2012 Conference in Washington, DC:

Today at ACORE's RETECH 2012 conference in Washington, D.C., John Lushetsky, Executive Director of the U.S. Army Energy Initiatives Task Force ("EITF") announced that the Army expects to issue a request for proposals within the next 90 days for a 15-28 MW biomass project to be located at Fort Drum in New York. The Army will be seeking a long-term power purchase agreement under the authority granted to it in 10 U.S.C. 2922a. The Army will issue the RFP through the Defense Logistics Agency-Energy.

TerraPass Issues California Renewable Energy RFI

TerraPass Inc., recently issued a Request for Information (RFI) on behalf of a client that is interested in ownership, investment and/or long-term bundled renewable energy offtake opportunities within PG&E territory.  The RFI seeks information from firms with renewable energy projects that are currently under development or construction in California and have projected online dates in 2014 or 2015. TerraPass' client will consider a project or portfolio of projects with expected generating capacity of up to 230 million kilowatt-hours per year.  

TerraPass' contact for this RFI is Erin Craig, who can be reached at 415-644-578.  We understand that the deadline for the RFI response is October 26.

Seattle City Light Issues RFP for Renewable Energy

Seattle City Light recently issued a request for proposals f(RFP) or up to 150,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy or renewable energy credits per year, starting in 2020.  The projects that generate the RECs or energy must qualify as eligible according to Washington State’s renewable portfolio standard. In addition, City Light will require a minimum output guarantee and credit assurances. The utility will also consider proposals for equity ownership.

In its RFP announcement, City Light said that it will consider a broad range of proposals, technologies, and contractual arrangements. A party submitting a proposal must be the owner of the eligible resource or renewable energy credits, or have written authorization from the owner to submit a proposal. City Light prefers baseload or dispatchable resources to complement existing supply resources that are predominately hydroelectric.
 

For more information on submitting a proposal, contact Robert W. Cromwell, Jr., director of power contracts and resource acquisition at robert.cromwell@seattle.gov, by phone at (206) 684-3856 or by FAX at (206) 386-4555.

 

City of Palo Alto Announces Renewables RFP

The City of Palo Alto, California, is seeking a minimum of 20 gigawatt-hours (GWh) annually, not to exceed 80 GWh/year, from eligible renewable resources. The City will not, however, consider proposals for the sale of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) alone . The City intends to negotiate and execute one or more power purchase agreements with one or more selected bidders, for terms of five (5) to thirty (30) years. The energy and RECs procured will be used to meet Pal Alto's City Council-imposed renewable energy supply target of 33% by 2015. 

The City will hold a pre-proposal conference at 10:00 am on Septemer 6, 2012.   The deadline for bid submission is 3:00 pm Wednesday, September 19, 2012.   Details of the RFP can be found here   The City's Contract Administrator is Carolynn Bissett, 650-329-2460.

California Issues 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan

The California Bioenergy Interagency Working Group has released its 2012 Bioenergy Action Plan, with the goal of facilitating the development of bioenergy in California on a variety of levels, including research and development support, streamlining and consolidating permitting, facilitating access to transmission, pipelines, and other distribution networks, and policies and laws to monetize the benefits of bioenergy. The Working Group is a broad coalition of state energy, environment, and resources agencies, including the California Public Utilities Commission, Energy Commission, Air Resources Board, Natural Resources Agency, Cal Fire, Cal Recycle, and the Department of Food and Agriculture, as well as the California Biomass Collaborative and the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board. The 2012 Plan builds on the Working Group’s 2006 and 2011 Bioenergy Action Plans, providing a more detailed set of actions for the constituent agencies to undertake and incorporating more of Governor Brown’s policies for energy, waste reduction, and job creation.  Bioenergy has met some obstacles in California in recent times, including challenges by major and local environmental groups to biomass-fueled electrical generation contesting claims of greenhouse gas neutrality and the Energy Commission’s suspension, in most cases, of pipeline biomethane as an eligible renewable fuel for gas-fired facilities to help meet the state’s 33% renewable portfolio standard. A concerted focus by the state agencies on specific Action Plan items will undoubtedly help move bioenergy forward in California. Bioenergy advocates should also keep an eye on several bioenergy and biomethane bills still active during this last week of the California 2011-2012 Legislative Session, including A.B. 1900, A.B. 2196, and S.B. 1122.

Army Holds Pre-Proposal Conference in Huntsville on Renewable Energy Procurement

On August 22, 2012, the U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center in Huntsville, AL held a pre-proposal conference to discuss the final multi-award task order contract that was issued on August 7, 2012 (the “Final RFP” or “MATOC”).  My colleague, Lane Tucker, and I attended to hear the Army’s presentations and to engage directly with renewable energy developers, consultants, seasoned government contractors, large energy service contractors (ESCOs), and others. The conference provided attendees a great opportunity to explore the field of potential contractors and subcontractors and start (or continue) conversations about potential teaming arrangements that could result in both a MATOC award and one or more base task order awards. 

For those who could not attend, fear not; all of the presentation materials will soon be available on the Army EITF website and the Huntsville team will post all of the questions presented, along with the Army’s formal responses, to the ProjNet website. Also important is that Tonju Butler, the Procuring Contracting Officer, indicated that the deadline for questions on the Final RFP would be extended from today until September 7, 2012, so that individuals and teams can have additional time to formulate and posit questions that may be important to their proposals.  However, that change has not yet been posted to the FedBizOpps website as an amendment.  It is too early to tell whether this extension foreshadows an extension of the October 5, 2012 proposal deadline. Right now, the Army is holding firm to that date, so individuals and teams that intend to respond should plan accordingly. Keep an eye out for other amendments to the Final RFP, too. Conference attendees were assured that more would be forthcoming to clarify small technical issues and, hopefully, to flush out the structure for proposing prices. All amendments will be posted to the FedBizOpps website for the MATOC.

Here are a few takeaways and a short discussion about some important issues. Be sure to check the Q&A on the ProjNet website for any official responses from the Army on these topics. 

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Southwestern Public Service Company Seeks Renewable Energy

Southwestern Public Service Company (“SPS”), a subsidiary of Xcel, has issued a request for proposals to diversify its existing renewable energy portfolio in New Mexico. SPS is seeking, on an annual basis, approximately 88,705 MWh of “Other” renewable energy generation as defined by the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission Rule 572 NMAC (i.e., other than solar and wind) or an equivalent amount of biogas of approximately 665,300 MMBtu to be in commercial operation no later than January 1st, 2015.

Bidders that intend to submit a proposal are REQUIRED to submit a Notice of Intent to Bid no later than Friday August 31st, 2012.  The submission deadline is 5:00 P.M. Mountain Time on Monday, October 1st, 2012.  More information can be found here on Xcel Energy's web site.

Possible Agreement on Extension of Tax Provisions, including PTC

Senators Max Baucus and Orrin Hatch, chairman and ranking member respectively, of the US Senate Finance Committee, have just announced that they have reached agreement on legislation to extend certain expiring tax provisions.  The bill will be marked up by the Finance Committee on August 2.

The details of the proposal have not been announced.  However, it is possible that the package could contain an extension of the Production Tax Credit ("PTC").

Even if the PTC is included in the Baucus-Hatch proposal, the legislation still must be passed by the Senate and House of Representatives.  The House (including the Ways & Means Committee) has not yet acted on expiring provisions.

We will update this blog as details are released.

Gov. Kitzhaber Names Margi Hoffman as Oregon's Energy Policy Advisor

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced today that he has named Margi Hoffman to serve as his Energy Policy Advisor.  She will join the Governor's office on April 2.

Ms. Hoffman has served as Senior Vice President and Director of Oregon Operations with Strategies360, a strategic consulting firm, and has also worked closely with Renewable Northwest Project (RNP) .  The news release from the Governor's office can be found here.

Congratulations, Margi!

Army Issues Draft RFP for $7 Billion in Renewable Energy Contracts

On Friday February 24, 2012, the U.S. Army Engineering & Support Center in Huntsville, Alabama issued a draft request for proposals (Solicitation No. W912DY-11-R-0036, the “Draft RFP”) titled “Large Scale Renewable Energy Production for Federal Installations.” 

The objective of the solicitation, in its current form, is to procure renewable and alternative energy through power purchase agreements (“PPAs”) or contractual equivalents for terms of up to 30 years. The government does not want to acquire generation assets, only energy. Projects may be located on or near any federal property located within the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii, territories, provinces or other property under the control of the United States. “The intent is to award contracts to all qualified and responsible offerors, both large and small businesses.” As stated in the Draft RFP, the proposed categorization of projects is as follows:

Energy Production Task Order Competition Caveats
Greater than 12 MW Unrestricted competition  
4 MW up to 12 MW The Contracting Officer will first consider reserving the Task Order for small businesses. The determination will examine the size of the project, the complexity of the project, and the level of financing required. Before making the determination on a particular project, the Contracting Officer will request a letter of interest from all small business firms. If fewer than two responses are received, the Task Order will open for unrestricted competition.
Less than 4 MW Reserved for small businesses If no proposals are received, or if all proposals are technically unacceptable and/or unreasonably priced, the Task Order will open for unrestricted competition.

Technologies that will be considered include solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal.  The estimated maximum value of all contracts awarded pursuant to the Draft RFP is $7 billion over a period of 10 years. 

It is important to note that the final RFP "may significantly vary from this draft."  The Army is accepting comments via the ProjNet website through March 21, 2012.  The final RFP will be issued at some point after that date.

Upcoming Energy Conference Highlights

Through industry presentations and publications as well as through our blog, our energy attorneys are dedicated to helping you stay informed and knowledgeable about legal developments that affect your business.

Visit our website for the latest calendar of events. Upcoming highlights include:

Distributed Solar Summit 2011
November 30-December 2 – San Diego, CA
This event is a unique opportunity for the entire distributed solar community to connect and discuss successful strategies for funding distributed solar projects. Stoel Rives attorneys Morten Lund and Brian Nese will moderate discussion panels covering “The California Market – Market Environment and Business Opportunities,” “Asset and Portfolio Capital Providers' Appetite for Investing in Distributed Solar,” and “EPC/Installers Views on Contracting Relationships.” As a sponsor, Stoel Rives is offering a 15% registration discount with code 118926.

Siting & Permitting Renewable Energy Projects in the West
December 7-9 – San Diego, CA
On December 8 hear Tim McMahan co-present “Impact of the Endangered Species Act, NEPA and Other Environmental Legislation on Current and Planned Projects,” and Tim Taylor participate in the discussion panel “Strategies for Working Successfully with the Regulators to Get Projects Permitted and Developed.” Wayne Rosenbaum will chair the Pre-Conference Workshop on December 7.

Hydropower’s Evolving Role in Western Power Grid Reliability
December 12-13 – Sacramento, CA
Join Stoel Rives attorneys Chad Marriott, Bill Holmes and Barbara Brenner for one of the year's most important hydroelectric power events. On December 13, Bill Holmes will present "Storage: How Changing Policies and Technologies Influence Hydropower Utilization," and Chad Marriott will present "Recognizing the Role of Small Hydro in the West."

US-China Wind 2011: Building Strategic Cooperation
December 13-15 – San Francisco, CA
Join Stoel Rives’ Mike Mangelson, William Clydesdale, David Benson, and Ed Einowski as they examine the factors driving developments of the US and Chinese wind power markets. Mike Mangelson will serve as the pre-summit chair, at which time William Clydesdale will present “Negotiating the Joint Venture Agreement.” During the main summit, chaired by Ed Einowski, David Benson will present “Alternative Financing Structures.” As the Platinum Sponsor of this event, Stoel Rives is offering a 15% registration discount with code 116011.

2012 Pacific West Biomass Conference & Trade Show
January 16-18 – San Francisco, CA
This event focuses on biomass utilization in the western US, and brings together area producers of biomass-derived electricity, heat, and power with waste generators, utility executives, equipment manufacturers, and more. On January 16, Lee N. Smith will moderate the discussion panel "Capitalizing on Energy Rich Waste Streams and Technical Approaches for their More Varied Conversion," and Greg Jenner will serve as a panelist for "Capitalization Strategies in Challenging Financial Environment." Stoel Rives is a proud sponsor of this event.

Projects & Money 2012
January 18-20 – New Orleans, LA
Stoel Rives is proud to be a Gold Sponsor for this one-stop meeting center for project professionals working to kick off their project finance plans. Stoel Rives attorney David Benson will be in attendance, and Stoel Rives attorney Julia Pettit will moderate the discussion panel "Buying and Selling Project Assets (Project M&A)" on January 19. Stoel Rives is pleased to offer a 10% registration discount with code 120366.

Wind & Solar Integration Summit
January 18-20 – Scottsdale, AZ
Stoel Rives attorneys Stephen Hall and Bill Holmes come together with policy makers, transmission owners and operators, and renewable energy developers to network and exchange valuable information about operational changes and their impact on distributed solar and grid-scale wind energy. Bill Holmes will serve as Summit Chair, and Stephen Hall will present "Approaches to Handling Environmental Redispatch and Curtailment.”

PV Project Due Diligence Requirements
January 23-24 – San Diego, CA
Hear Stoel Rives attorney Howard Susman present "Project Contractual Relationships" on Monday, January 23 as he covers such issues as PPAs, financing, siting and permitting, and more.

Next Generation Bio-Based Chemicals Summit
January 23-26 – San Diego, CA
Join Stoel Rives attorneys David Quinby, Christopher Voss and Jere Webb for this innovative biotech/biofuels event with a comprehensive, in-depth focus on sustainably sourced chemicals — and the platforms, resources, business models and tools required to deliver them. Stoel Rives is a Platinum Sponsor for this event.

EUEC 2012
January 30-February 1 – Phoenix, AZ
See over 600 professional presentations on 12 specialized tracks, and browse over 200 exhibits. Allison Smith will present "Strategies for Complying with Current GHG Regulations in California,” and Kristen Castaños will present "Utility-Scale Solar Projects in California - The Keys to Development Permits in Desert Areas and on Farmland."

Wind Power Finance & Investment Summit
February 8-10 – San Diego, CA
Join Ed Einowski and members of the Stoel Rives Wind team as they participate in one of the best deal-making and networking events in the wind industry. Stoel Rives is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor for this event.

Solar Power Finance & Investment Summit
February 27-March 1 – San Diego, CA
Join Stoel Rives attorneys Howard Susman, Julia Pettit, David Benson, Morten Lund and Greg Jenner to learn about putting together solar power project deals. Hear investors discuss their future plans and what they seek when getting involved in deals in 2012 and beyond. David Benson will Chair, Julia Pettit will moderate, “The Buying and Selling of Distributed Solar Projects,” and Morten Lund will moderate, “Financing 2-20 MW Scale Projects.” Stoel Rives is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor at this event.

Upcoming Energy Conference Highlights

Through industry presentations and publications as well as through our blog, our energy attorneys are dedicated to helping you stay informed and knowledgeable about legal developments that affect your business.

 

Visit our website for the latest calendar of events. Upcoming highlights include:

 

Southeast Biomass Conference & Trade Show
November 1-3 – Atlanta, GA
Join Stoel Rives attorneys Lee Smith, Greg Jenner, Joe Thompson, and Tim Taylor in Atlanta for this BBI conference. Stoel Rives is a proud sponsor of this event. Our attorneys will participate in discussion panels covering Environmental Compliance, Biomass Procurement and Supply Chain Management, and Federal Incentives.

 

WoWE Leadership Forum
November 2 – Carlsbad, CA
Stoel Rives and the Women of Wind Energy (WoWE) are pleased to announce the second installment of this special Forum. Stoel Rives attorneys Elizabeth Cason, Dina Dubson and Julia Pettit, member of the 2011 planning committee, will be in attendance.

 

AWEA Wind Energy Fall Symposium
November 2-4 – Carlsbad, CA
Join Stoel Rives attorneys Julia Pettit, Howard Susman and Wayne Rosenbaum at this exclusive event designed for professionals in every segment of the wind industry.

 

Solar Power Project Development
November 9 – San Diego, CA
Join Stoel Rives attorney Brian Nese in San Diego where he will co-present the Solar Status and Update session.

 

Green Energy M&A Outlook for 2012
November 15-16 – Santa Clara CA
Stoel Rives is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor at this event. Attorneys Duff Bryant, Ed Einowski and Julia Pettit will moderate discussion panels covering the Corporate M&A Landscape, Renewable Developers’ Perspectives, and Wind M&A Deals. Duff Bryant and Ed Einowski will serve as Summit Co-Chairs. We are pleased to offer a 15% registration discount with code 119631.

 

CalWEA 11th Annual Meeting
November 16-17 – Carlsbad, CA
Join Howard Susman, Wayne Rosenbaum, Randy Faccinto, Brian Nese, and Elizabeth Cason as they gather with other members of the California Wind Energy Association. Stoel Rives is proud to be a breakfast sponsor at this event.

 

Utah Renewable Energy Business Summit
November 16-17 – Salt Lake City, UT
Join Stoel Rives attorney Julia Pettit for this two-day event presented by the Governor’s Office of Economic Development.

 

Distributed Solar Summit 2011
November 30-December 2 – San Diego, CA
Hear discussions moderated by Stoel Rives attorneys Morten Lund and Brian Nese covering The California Market Environment and Business Opportunities, Asset and Portfolio Capital Providers' Appetite for Investing in Distributed Solar, and EPC/Installers Views on Contracting Relationships.

 

Siting & Permitting Renewable Energy Projects in the West
December 7-9 – San Diego, CA
Tim McMahan will co-present Impact of the Endangered Species Act, NEPA and Other Environmental Legislation on Current and Planned Projects and Tim Taylor will participate in the discussion panel Strategies for Working Successfully with the Regulators to Get Projects Permitted and Developed.

 

US-China Wind 2011: Building Strategic Cooperation
December 13-15 – San Francisco, CA
Visit with Mike Mangelson, William Clydesdale, David Benson, and Ed Einowski in San Francisco for the 2nd Annual US-China Wind Summit. Stoel Rives is proud to be a Platinum Sponsor at this Infocast event, and we are pleased to offer a 15% discount on registration with code 116011.

 

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To see the full calendar of events, click here.

Great River Energy Issues Request for Proposals

On August 15, 2011, Great River Energy (GRE) issued a request for proposals (RFP) for community-based energy development (C-BED) renewable energy resources.  Eligible energy technologies include: wind, solar, hydroelectric of less than 100 megawatts, biomass, municipal solid waste, landfill gas and anaerobic digesters, and hydrogen produced from any of the previous resources.

In announcing the RFP, GRE noted that it already has enough renewable resources in its energy portfolio to meet Minnesota's Renewable Energy Standard.  Minnesota's RES requires electric utilities to supply an increasing percentage of their energy sales from renewable energy sources, reaching 25 percent by 2025. Nevertheless, GRE issued the RFP to "evaluate if additional C-BED renewable resources can provide value to our member cooperatives in the future," according to Jon Brekke, Great River Energy vice president of member services.  GRE plans to evaluate proposals based on their impact to wholesale power rates and other factors.

Proposals are due before 4pm Central Prevailing Time on Sept. 9, 2011.  GRE plans to notify short listed bidders by September 30 and has targeted November 1, 2011 as the execution date for a power purchase agreement (PPA).  GRE is clearly looking for bargains from developers who can take advantage of the Section 1603 cash grant, a program that expires on December 31, 2011, and who can place a project in service by December 31, 2012.  Since projects seeking the cash grant will need to "begin construction" (as that concept is defined in Section 1603) by December 31, 2011, the November 1 target execution date will likely be critical for developers seeking to arrange project financing before year end.

GRE is interested in entering into a PPA rather than a build-transfer or other ownership arrangement.  GRE's form of PPA can be found here.   The RFP itself can be found here.  For more information about the RFP, contact Mark Rathbun at 763-445-6104 or 2011cbedrenewablerfp@grenergy.com.

Joint Agency Effort to deploy $510 Million to Support Drop-In Aviation and Marine Biofuels

Yesterday, President Obama announced that the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (“USDA”), Energy (“DOE”), and Navy (“USN”, and together with the USDA and DOE, the “Agencies”) will invest up to $510 million over the course of the next three years to support advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation. This is a follow up to President Obama’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (the “Blueprint”).  In the Blueprint, the President expressed a desire to begin construction on at least four commercial-scale cellulosic or advanced bio-refineries over the next two years and challenged the Agencies to work together to spur the development of competitively priced substitutes for diesel and jet fuel.

The USDA, DOE and USN responded to the Blueprint by signing a Memorandum of Understanding  (the “MOU”). The MOU outlines a plan for the Agencies to partner with the private sector to construct or retrofit several drop-in biofuel plants and refineries. The agencies have stated goals of limiting our nation’s dependence on foreign oil for national, providing tactical and strategic advantages for our military and creating economic opportunities in rural communities. We expect that the USDA will take the lead on addressing feedstocks, the DOE will take the lead on technology, and the USN will be the initial primary consumer of the advanced biofuels.

 

Each of the Agencies have committed to spending $170 million over the next three years and an Executive Steering Group (the “ESG”) will be established to coordinate the programs. It is expected that the ESG will work with the Agencies to develop and release solicitations to industry beginning in December 2011. The solicitations will be issued in accordance with the Defense Production Act (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq), the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act (15 U.S.C. 714 et seq), the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535) and other appropriate authorities. Consequently, rights in inventions made as a consequence of, or in direct relation, of these solicitations will be administered in accordance with the applicable Agency’s governing laws and policies.

Puget Sound Energy Files for WUTC Review of "All-Source" RFP

Puget Sound Energy (PSE) has filed with the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) a Request for Proposals for All Generation Sources (the all-source RFP) and a Request for Proposals for Electric and Demand Side Resources (energy-efficiency RFP). PSE filed the draft all source RFP on August 1, 2011 and plans to issue a separate energy efficiency RFP later.  

Under the all source RFP, PSE is seeking proposals for energy generation resources as capacity generation resources, as well as transmission products from BPA’s system to PSE's system. PSE is willing to consider both existing generation resources and resources that are under development but expected to achieve commercial operation no later than December 2015. According to PSE, a revised assessment of its portfolio needs and peak customer power requirements demonstrates a need for approximately 500 MW of capacity by the end of 2012.  PSE would be willing to consider various commercial arrangements under the RFP, including power purchase agreements, temporal exchange agreements, ownership arrangements (e.g., a transfer of development assets, a build-transfer arrangement, or sale of an existing asset), as well as transmission-only products from BPA’s system.

 

PSE will be hosting an RFP Proposal Conference on August 16, 2011, in Bellevue, Washington, to discuss the all-source RFP. To register for the conference, email janice.brown@pse.com. Public comments on the draft RFP are due on September 2, 2011, and PSE expects to receive WUTC approval by September 28. If the schedule holds, PSE plans to issue the final RFP solicitation on October 5, 2011.  PSE expects to select a final short list and notify respondents in 1Q 2012.

PSE’s web page for the RFP (including its proposed schedule and the draft RFP itself) can be found here.

Recent RFPs for Renewable Energy

Several requests for proposals ("RFPs") have been issued recently with July deadlines.  Here's a brief summary of each:

  • Progress Energy Carolinas is seeking proposals for energy and renewable energy certificates from newly constructed or existing wind projects of at least 5 MW to comply with North Carolina's renewable energy portfolio standard.  Projects do not have to be located in North Carolina.  The deadline for proposals is currently set at 5:00 p.m. EST, July 25.  The utility anticipates shortlisting in August and executing final contracts in late October.  More information can be found here.
  • Tucson Electric Power and UniSource Energy Services are seeking up to 50 MW of Arizona-based wind generation.  There will be a bidder teleconference at 1:30 p.m. PST on Monday July 18.  Bids are currently due by 4:00 p.m. PPT on August 25 and the utilities expect to make a decision by September 30.  Information about the joint request for proposals can be found here
  • The City of Roseville, California, through its electric department, Roseville Electric, seeks to procure eligible renewable energy resources from renewable electrical generation facilities as defined by California's SBX1-2.  Targeted procurement is outlined on the request for offer document.  The deadline to submit questions is July 22.  Responses are currently due July 26 and the City anticipates shortlisting on or about September 30.  More information is available here.
  • National Grid has issued a second request for proposals for renewable energy in Rhode Island.  The Narragansett Electric Company d/b/a National  Grid is seeking proposals for capacity, energy, and renewable energy credits under 10-15 year contracts.  A bidders conference will be held on July 15 in Rhode Island.  Notices of Intent to Bid are currently due by 5:00 p.m. EPT on July 20, and proposals will be due by 5:00 p.m. EPT on August 4.  Details can be found here.

 

LexisNexis Selects Renewable + Law Blog to its Top 50 Environmental Law Blogs List

Having first reported to our readers in February that LexisNexis had nominated the Stoel Rives Renewable + Law Blog for its Top 50 Environmental Law & Climate Change Blogs for 2011 award, we are pleased to announce we made the list of winners! In publishing its Top 50 list, LexisNexis declared that our Renewable + Law bloggers’ “avowed passion for solar energy, wind energy, biofuels, ocean and hydrokinetic energy, biomass, waste-to-energy, geothermal and other clean technologies is evident in the care they take with this blog-the posts are frequent, the topics are interesting and cutting edge, and the writing is top notch.”

 

Thanks again to all our readers who make regular use of Renewable + Law Blog and those who wrote in to support us for this award. We're honored and inspired, and we plan to keep those Blogs and letters coming.

 

Non-Profit Groups Challenge Colorado's RES and Question Public Policy Favoring Wind Energy

          Stoel Rives partner Bev Pearman reviewed the complaint filed Monday in American Tradition Institute, et al., v. Colorado and prepared this analysis:

          On April 4, 2011, the American Tradition Institute (“ATI”), the American Tradition Partnership (“ATP”), and Rod Lueck filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado arguing that Colorado is unconstitutionally discriminating against out-of-state renewable energy producers. ATI is a nonprofit organization “dedicated to the advancement of rational, free-market solutions to America’s land, energy, and environmental challenges,” and ATP is a lobbying organization “dedicated to fighting environmental extremism and promoting responsible development and management of land, water, and natural resources in the Rocky Mountain West and across the United States.” Rod Lueck is a member of ATI and ATP. 

Colorado’s renewable energy standard (“RES”) states that by 2020 the state’s two major investor-owned utilities must get 30 percent of electricity sold from recycled or renewable resources. Renewable energy resources are “solar, wind, geothermal, biomass, new hydroelectricity with a nameplate rating of ten megawatts or less, and hydroelectricity in existence on January 1, 2005, with a nameplate rating of thirty megawatts or less.” “Fossil and nuclear fuels and their derivatives” are not “eligible energy resources” for complying with the RES.   Additionally, each kilowatt of electricity generated in Colorado from certain recycled or renewable sources is given an enhanced value of one and one-quarter kilowatt-hours for purposes of meeting the mandated standards.

   

Plaintiffs raise both a sweeping Commerce Clause claim and a more focused Commerce Clause claim. The sweeping claim is that the statutory scheme is unconstitutional because it discriminates against non-renewable generation resources, both in-state and out-of-state, with plaintiffs alleging that such non-renewable generation is “legal, safer, less costly, less polluting and more reliable than renewable generation.  A more focused claim is that the statutory preference given to in-state renewable electricity establishes a “market-bias against otherwise qualifying renewable sources located outside of Colorado and an inflated cost of complying with the RES requirements.”

 

Plaintiffs’ Commerce Clause claim is grounded in a U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit’s decision in KT&G Corp. v. Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, 535 F.3d 1114, 1143 (10th Cir. 2008), which says a state may violate the dormant Commerce Clause by:

 

·         Discriminating against interstate commerce in favor of intrastate commerce, unless “the discrimination is demonstrably justified by a valid factor unrelated to economic protectionism;” or

 

·         Imposing “a burden on interstate commerce incommensurate with the local benefits secured;” or

 

·         Creating mandates with the “practical effect of extraterritorial control of commerce occurring entirely outside the boundaries of the state in question.”

 

We expect that Colorado will vigorously defend the RES as being constitutional because its interest in promoting renewable energy generation is an important policy choice. Plaintiffs are attacking that position head-on, however, by challenging the policy of favoring renewable resources, particularly wind energy. They allege that wind energy is not reliable, causes more pollution due to the cycling of coal and natural gas plants during times when wind generation is not possible, and drives up utility costs for consumers. They do not attack other forms of renewable energy as vociferously, but still argue that any scheme favoring renewable resources over other energy sources burdens interstate commerce and violates the Commerce Clause. 

      

The more focused claim (based on the preference given in-state renewable resources) is similar to a Commerce Clause challenge was brought nearly a year ago in Massachusetts by TransCanada Power Marketing, Ltd. (“TransCanada”).  The Massachusetts suit did not challenge the policy of promoting renewable energy over non-renewable energy sources. It instead focused on renewable energy mandates and incentives favoring in-state generation. We do not know what arguments Massachusetts would have raised in defense of its program because the case was stayed after the state suspended the regulation underlying the statute in question. It issued emergency regulations, which were later adopted as final regulations, but the statute that establishes the challenged policy has not been amended. On April 1, 2011, the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, an advocacy group that is leading the opposition to the Cape Wind project, filed a motion to intervene in that proceeding. It argued that TransCanada does not represent the interests of Massachusetts ratepayers. Their economic interests are allegedly harmed because the program at issue discourages utilities from entering long-term contracts with out-of-state generators, which has the effect of reducing out-of-state competition and increasing the cost of renewable energy for ratepayers.

      

The outcome of both of these cases could have far-reaching effects on other state’s RESs and renewable portfolio goals (RPGs). If the plaintiffs are successful with their claims, then the states with RESs and RPGs may have to modify their standards so they are not discriminating against out-of-state renewable energy generators. As we have noted before, the RESs with regional preferences may not be as much at risk. A key question that the courts have yet to answer are whether the RESs and RPGs create protectionist barriers to interstate trade. Check here for regular updates as these groundbreaking cases moves forward.

COMMISSIONER FLORIO NOTICES ALL-PARTY MEETING CONCERNING 2011 RENEWABLE PORTFOLIO STANDARD PROCUREMENT

 

On February 11, 2011, California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Administrative Law Judge Burton Mattson issued a Proposed Decision conditionally accepting the 2011 Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Procurement Plans for Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric Company, and San Diego Gas and Electric Company.  If adopted, the Decision would set a schedule for the utilities’ 2011 RPS solicitation.  The Decision was on the agenda for the CPUC’s March 24, 2011 business meeting, but was held at Commissioner Florio’s request until the April 14 meeting.

 

On March 17, 2011, Commissioner Florio noticed an all-party meeting on the Proposed Decision for March 25, 2011.  Yesterday, Commission Florio circulated an agenda for the meeting.  Among the issues raised by the agenda is whether an RPS solicitation in 2011 is necessary and prudent.

 

Stoel Rives’ Partner Seth Hilton will be present at the all-party meeting, and will provide an update afterwards. 

Projects & Money 2011

As we approach the beginning of a new year, financing options for energy projects (both conventional and renewable) under the current economic conditions continue to be a challenge and a focal point for the energy industry.  In order to gear up for financing opportunities in 2011,  I, along with my colleagues Marcus Wood, Graham Noyes and Adam Kobos, will be heading to the Big Easy for Projects & Money 2011.  Stoel Rives is proud to be a Gold Sponsor at this engaging conference, where Capital Providers, Project Developers and other dealmakers in the financing community will gather together to share information, discuss deal leads and capitalize on new market opportunities.

Projects & Money incorporates its comprehensive market updates with networking opportunities, introductions to new project developments, and interactive multimedia components. Presentations from industry professionals provide an inside look at some of the most ground-breaking deals of 2010, examine the trends they reveal, and provide a better understanding of what it takes to make deals happen.

Stoel Rives attorney Graham Noyes will present "DOE's Loan Guarantee Program: Crucial Financing Mechanism or a Costly Distraction?" on Tuesday, January 11, at 1:30 p.m. during the Pre-Summit Briefing.

On Wednesday, January 12, Partner Marcus Wood will moderate the discussion panel, "Transmission Outlook," at 2:15 p.m. during Track II: Project Sector Outlooks.

Hope to see you there!

To learn more about the conference or to register online, please visit: http://www.infocastinc.com/index.php/conference/416

Projects & Money
When: January 11-13, 2011
Where: Harrah's New Orleans – New Orleans, LA

ODOE Issues Permanent Biomass Producer/Collector Tax Credit Rules

Yesterday, the Oregon Department of Energy issued is final administrative rules for the biomass producer /collector tax credit. The new permanent rules can be viewed at the following link: http://oregon.gov/ENERGY/RENEW/Biomass/docs/BPC_PermRules.pdf/oregon.gov/ENERGY/RENEW/Biomass/docs/BPC_PermRules.pdf

A National Renewable Energy Standard Bill Surfaces in DC

Sens. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Sam Brownback (R-KS), with Sens. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Susan Collins (R-ME), Tom Udall (D-NM), Mark Udall (D-CO) and others joining, announced today that they will introduce a stand-alone Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) bill.  The bill will require sellers of electricity to obtain the following milestones in adding renewable energy resources or energy efficiency:

2012-2013 - 3%

2014-2015 - 6%

2017-2018 - 9%

2019-2020 - 12%

2021 - 2039 -15%

Renewable resources that can be used toward compliance will include wind, solar, ocean, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, incremental hydropower, hydrokinetic, new hydropower at existing dams, and waste-to-energy.  For utilities that are unable to meet their RES targets, the bill proposes to charge a compliance payment at a rate of 2.1 cents per kilowatt hour, with such amounts then being used for renewable energy development or to offset consumers' bills.

A first step, yes.  But a small one.

Follow the link to learn more:  

Continue Reading...

California Energy Commission Proposes Revisions to RPS Guidebooks

An alert written by Stoel Rives partners Seth Hilton and John McKinsey:

The California Energy Commission RPS staff has proposed some significant and potentially important revisions to the RPS Eligibility Guidebook and the Overall Program Guidebook.  Written comments on the proposed revisions are due September 10, 2010, by 5:00 p.m.  The CEC will consider approval of the revisions at the November 17, 2010 CEC Business Meeting.  The revisions would become effective immediately upon adoption. 

Some of the most significant changes proposed to the RPS Eligibility Guidebook include:

Biodiesel:

  • Facility operators and fuel suppliers would now be required to verify that fuel meets RPS eligibility requirements.

Biogas:

  • Biogas use would now be allowed to generate electricity at the fuel processing site.  If not, the biogas must be transported by one of three methods to the electric generating facility.
  • The eligibility of biogas would now be expanded to include electric generating facilities located outside of California (but within the WECC – must deliver to pipeline that is directly linked to California).

Biomass:

  • Biomass facilities could now use up to 5% nonrenewable fuel if the facility participates in the Existing Renewable Facilities Program and up to 2% if the facility participates only in the RPS program.
  • Facility operators would now be required to provide verifications that fuel meets RPS eligibility requirements.

Fuel Cells:

  • Fuel cells would now be allowed to use the following renewable fuels in electrochemical reaction to generate electricity:  landfill gas, digester gas, other RPS-eligible gases, and Hydrogent or hydrogen-RCI gases derived from a non-fossil fuel or feedstock through the use of power generated by an RPS-eligible resource.

Out-of-State Facilities:

  • The proposed changes would require submission of environmental documentation to support the analysis submitted on Laws, Ordinances, Regulations and Standards requirements.

Multiple Fuel Facilities – Measurement Methods:

  • The proposed changes would require all facilities using multiple energy inputs to select and submit an appropriate measurement method, or submit an alternative, that will be used to measure the contribution of each resource.  Such measurements would apply to three categories: combustion and fuel cell, non-combustion thermal, and non-thermal electric generating technologies (excluding fuel cells).

CEC staff also proposes changes to the Overall Program Guidebook, including changes to the definitions of biogas, biomass, central station and distributed generation, commercial operation and hydroelectric. 

 

Perhaps equally important, CEC staff will consider further changes immediately after the November 17 CEC Business Meeting, including for example, limitations on biogas delivery via injection into natural gas pipelines.  CEC staff has asked for stakeholder input on additional areas, which can be found at http://www.energy.ca.gov/portfolio/notices/2010-08-30_Staff_Workshop_Revised.pdf.

If these changes are important to you, comments will be accepted up to September 10 and again at the CEC Business Meeting on November 17.

If you have any questions about the issues of this update, please contact:

Seth Hilton at (916) 319-4749 or sdhilton@stoel.com
John McKinsey at (916) 319-4746 or jamckinsey@stoel.com

Good News and Bad News for DOE's Loan Guarantee Program

There has been a wave of good and bad news this past week regarding the DOE's Loan Guarantee Program.  On the positive side, Secretary Chu announced on Friday that the Department would be adding an additional compliance period for the Innovative Solicitation.  The current deadline for the Part I application under the program is August 24th.  Secretary Chu announced the applications would be accepted until October 5th thus providing six more weeks of time to applicants.  Secretary Chu did not extend the Part II deadline and cannot extend the September 30, 2011 start construction deadline as that deadline was established by the Stimulus Bill itself.  Still, the extension was generally viewed as a respite and perhaps an indication of a willingness to further extend the program.

On the bad news side, the Senate approved the FMAP state aid bill to avert teacher layoffs and pay for Medicaid which is to be funded in part by taking $1.5 billion in funds that the Stimulus Bill appropriated to the DOE Loan Guarantee program.  Clearly driven by Pay-Go requirements, this is a reminder of the $2.0 billion fleecing that the Loan Guarantee Program suffered when Cash for Clunkers program was passed.  While it has been promised that the funds will be restored, the fact that the Cash for Clunkers funding has not yet been restored raises concern about whether the restoration will occur. 

New Tool for Renewable Energy Investors, Entrepreneurs, and Companies

On June 30, 2010, the U.S. Department of Energy ("DOE") launched its Technology Commercialization Portal (the "Portal").  The Portal is an online resource that provides a mechanism for investors, entrepreneurs and companies to identify new technologies coming out of DOE laboratories and other participating research institutions.  Relevant technologies include:

  • Advanced Materials
  • Biomass and Biofuels
  • Building Energy Efficiency
  • Electricity Transmission and Distribution
  • Energy Analysis Models, Tools and Software
  • Energy Storage
  • Geothermal
  • Hydrogen and Fuel Cell
  • Hydropower, Wave and Tidal
  • Industrial Technologies
  • Solar Photovoltaic
  • Solar Thermal
  • Vehicles and Fuels
  • Wind Energy

The Portal contains marketing summaries about the various DOE technologies that are available for licensing.  Each marketing summary describes a technology's applications, advantages, benefits and state of development.  Further, the Portal also provides access to information on patents and patent applications that have been created using DOE funding since 1992.

The Portal is located at http://techportal.eere.energy.gov/

DOE Awards $24 Million for Algal Biofuels Research

 

 

On Monday, the DOE announced that is had awarded up to $24 million to three research consortiums for the commercialization of algae-based biofuels. The three consortia include partners from academia, national laboratories, and private industries located across the country. Projects are expected to continue for three years.

 

The three awardees are:

  • The Sustainable Algal Biofuels Consortium led by Arizona State University, will get up to $6 million for testing the acceptability of algal biofuels as replacements for petroleum-based fuels,  investigating the biochemical conversion of algae to fuels and products and analyzing the physical chemistry properties of algal fuels and fuel intermediates.
  • The Consortium for Algal Biofuels Commercialization led by the University of California, San Diego, will receive up to $9 million developing algae as a robust biofuels feedstock by focusing on algal crop protection, algal nutrient utilization, and genetic tools.
  • The Cellana, LLC Consortium led by Cellana, LLC, of Hawaii, will also receive up to $9 million for examining the large-scale production of fuels and feed from microalgae grown in seawater, new algal harvesting technologies with pilot-scale cultivation test beds, and for developing marine microalgae as animal feed for the aquaculture industry.

DOE: up to $11 Million for Biofuels Technology Development

 

The DOE announced today that it will provide up to $11 million over three years for improving the conversion via pyrolysis of non-food biomass to biofuels, that can use the existing fueling infrastructure. (Pyrolosis is the process that decomposes biomass using heat without oxygen to produce bio-oil.)

 

Successful applications for projects will (among other things):

 

  • Address how to make corrosive bio-oils compatible with the current infrastructure
  • Catalytically de-oxygenate the molecular fragments in bio-oils
  • Demonstrate the ability to produce a liquid transportation hydrocarbon fuel that can be blended at up to 30 percent by weight with petroleum fuels, or produce an upgraded bio-oil compatible with existing petroleum refining unit operations
  • Include an analysis of greenhouse gas reductions using the applicant’s technology

DOE anticipates selecting three to four projects under this announcement and will require a minimum of 20% cost share from applicants. Eligible applicants include universities, national laboratories, or companies.

 

The deadline for the applications is July 9, 2010. Go to  Grants.gov. for a copy of the funding opportunity and application.

Washington Revising its State Energy Strategy

The Washington State Department of Commerce (formerly the Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development or CTED) has announced that it is attempting to revise Washington’s comprehensive energy plan (the “State Energy Strategy”). 

The State Energy Strategy was last revised in 2003, and it does not serve current energy realities and forecasts. Therefore, the Washington State Legislature has tasked the Department of Commerce with updating the State Energy Strategy while taking account the following three goals and nine principles:

Continue Reading...

The Law of Biomass is Available Now

We are pleased to announce that the first edition of THE LAW OF BIOMASS is available now. THE LAW OF BIOMASS is a guide which contains insights and lessons that our team has developed through our position as a market leader in renewable energy legal issues. THE LAW OF BIOMASS focuses on electricity generated from biomass sources. As changes in the energy markets and views on natural resources create a compelling case for renewable and sustainable energy, biomass is emerging as a positive solution.

We hope that you find THE LAW OF BIOMASS useful. To request a copy of THE LAW OF BIOMASS, please visit our website: http://www.stoel.com/lawofseries.aspx.

2010 International BIOMASS Conference and Expo - May 4-6, 2010

This year's International BIOMASS Conference and Expo will be held in Minneapolis, Minnesota on May 4-6.  The 6 program tracks will provide specified topic panels and discussions on Crop Residues, Dedicated Energy Crops, Forest and Wood Processing Residues, Livestock and Poultry Wastes, MSW and Urban Wastes as well as Food Processing Residues.

Please join Mark Hanson, Jennifer Martin, David Quinby, Kevin Johnson, Kevin Prohaska, Joe Thompson, Edna Vassilovski, Mary Sennes, Katie Roek , Bill Holmes and Debra Frimerman for a Stoel Rives-sponsored lunch on Day 1 of this year's International Biomass Conference or stop by Booth #609 in the Expo to speak with our attorneys.   We'll also be debuting our new Law of Biomass, the latest installment in the highly regarded Stoel Rives' "Law of" series, and complimentary copies of the new book will be on offer at our booth.

David Quinby, partner in the Minneapolis office, will moderate Track 4: Livestock & Poultry Waste: Downstream Approaches to Upgrading Biogas Quality, Wednesday, May 5 at 3:30 p.m. and Jennifer Martin, partner in the Portland office, will present as part of the Bonus Panel: Biomass to Energy Projects: Key Issues to Consider in Power Purchase and Feedstock Agreement, Thursday, May 6 at 1:30 p.m.

We look forward to seeing you at the Conference! To learn more or to register for this event, please visit: http://biomassconference.com/ema/DisplayPage.aspx?pageId=About.

•  When: 5/4/2010

•  Where: Minneapolis Convention Center, Minneapolis, MN

Nebraska Public Power District Wind and Renewables RFPs

The Nebraska Public Power District has two open RFPs that may be of interest to renewable energy developers. 

In Request for Proposal (RFP) 10018, the District announced that it intends to expand its power supply by adding wind-powered resources to its generation portfolio . The District seeks proposals to provide power from wind projects between 50 megawatts (MWs) and 300 MWs capacity.  The resulting PPAs would have a term of 20 years.  Bids are due by 5:00 pm Central Time on June 4, 2010.

The District also issued Request for Proposal (RFP) 10005, a separate request for energy, capacity and  environmental attributes from small renewable energy projects.  The solicitation defines a small project as one with a nameplate capacity at each location of less than ten (10) MW but greater than the maximum size allowed in the interconnecting utility’s Net Metering Policy.   Bids are due by 5:00 pm Central Time on September 1, 2010.

The District's contact for each RFP is Sarah Hopwood, Tel 402 563-5405, Fax 402 563-5034
sjhopwo@nppd.com.

Tradable RECs Now Count Toward California's RPS

On Thursday March 11, 2010, the California Public Utility Commission (the "CPUC") created a market for tradable renewable energy credits ("TRECs") in the state.  That's big news.  In its 149-page decision, the CPUC stated that investor-owned utilities ("IOUs"), energy service providers, and community choice aggregators may now use TRECs to comply with California's ambitious renewable portfolio standard ("RPS").  These entities are now permitted to purchase a portion of their RPS compliance from generation sources other than those they own (e.g., distributed solar generation facilities within the state and certain out-of-state facilities).

 

Continue Reading...

Proposed Legislation to Limit ITC Grants for Renewable Projects

Proposed legislation in the Senate would greatly limit the effectiveness of the grant in lieu of tax credits for renewable energy projects under section 1603 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The section 1603 grant currently applies to renewable energy projects, such as wind, solar, geothermal and biomass, that are placed in service before 2011 or for which construction begins in 2009 or 2010 (and that are placed in service by certain dates). In its current form, if a project qualifies for the grant, the Treasury Department is required to pay the grant.

Expressing concern that a significant portion of the grants paid so far have gone to non-U.S. companies,  Senator Charles Schumer (NY) and three other Democratic senators have sponsored a bill that would make payment of the grant subject to the discretion of the Treasury Department. It also would make the grant subject to the Buy American requirements of the stimulus bill, and would require that Treasury conduct an analysis of the "domestic job preservation and creation provided by" a project for which a grant application is submitted.

Various trade associations involved in renewable energy (such as AWEA, GEA and SEIA) are taking immediate action to register their opposition. Their focus will be on the incorrect assumptions underlying the proposal (for example, that it does not create U.S. jobs) and that, if enacted, it likely would destroy the effectiveness of the program.

We encourage our readers to register their strong opposition with their members of Congress and with the trade associations with which they are associated. The more opposition that is registered, and the longer the proposal drags out, the less likely it is to be enacted. 

Read the March 4, 2010 Stoel Rives Law Alert on this proposed legislation.

POSSIBLE RESTRUCTURING OF 1603 GRANTS

Congress is considering a complete rewrite of the 1603 grant program.  Some of the changes being considered are very helpful while others would be extremely troubling.  Please continue reading to get the full story ...

 

 

Continue Reading...

Stoel Rives Clients Receive Huge Tax Credit Awards

Stoel Rives would like to congratulate REC Silicon and SolarWorld on their awards of tax credits by the IRS and DOE. These two companies, combined, received over 10 percent of all the tax credits awarded nationwide under section 48C of the tax code.

On Friday, January 8, the Department of Energy awarded to 183 companies $2.3 billion in tax credits for projects designed to expand, re-equip or establish manufacturing facilities for the production of equipment used to produce renewable and other green energy. The $2.3 billion was the full amount authorized by Congress in the stimulus bill as part of new section 48C of the tax code.

Applications for the credit far exceeded the dollar amount of credits available. Stoel Rives is proud to have been directly involved with these companies in preparing the complex applications for the credit. REC Silicon received the largest award of any company -- $154.8 million. SolarWorld received the seventh largest award -- $82.2 million. These credits will provide these companies with a dollar-for-dollar offset against their federal income tax liability.

There is considerable discussion in Congress regarding adding additional funds to the section 48C program, which will permit another round of awards. Please contact your favorite Stoel Rives attorney if you have any questions about these awards or extension of the section 48C credit.

February 9 Breakfast Seminar on Developing, Permitting and Financing Biomass Facilities


During the WORLD AG EXPO in Tulare, CA on February 9, Stoel Rives will be hosting a Breakfast Seminar on Developing, Permiting and Financing Biomass Facilities.  The seminar will take place in the Sequoia Room of the Hampton Inn and Suites, 1100 N. Cherry Street, which is near the Expo Site.  The Seminar will be complimentary (breakfast included), and attendees will receive a copy of The Law of Biomass - the newest and 10th book in the Stoel Rives "Law of" series.

Please join attorneys John M. Eustermann, Michael N. Mills, Rebecca B. Sandberg, Lee N. Smith and Joe R. Thompson as they address the following agenda items: 

  • California Environmental Regulatory Update
  • Successfully Bringing a Project to Commercial Operations
  • Financing Your Biomass Project

The first portion of our seminar will explore new legislation and regulations affecting initial decision-making and the permitting process for biomass facilities. The second portion will discuss those issues the project developer will need to deal with in order to successfully develop a financeable project. The final hour will be dedicated to the financing aspect of biomass projects.

Click here for more details and to register for The Resurgence in Biomass Facilities: What You Need to Know to Develop, Permit and Finance Your Project .