DOD Should Consider Adding Fast-Ramping Generation to its Procurement Planning

Intermittent resources create unique challenges for 21st Century Utilities, RTO's and System Operators. The now infamous "Duck Chart" highlights a key element of the problem -- central station thermal plants cannot ramp efficiently, leading to "worst of all" scenarios where the benefits of renewables are not fully utilized and central station plants operate inefficiently for extended periods.

By contrast, fast-ramping distributed generation creates a path to the opposite result. With fast-ramping support, central station plants remain at an efficient "steady state" while intermittent renewables operate at maximum output, providing emission-free generation with no variable fuel costs. These efficiencies result in substantial and quantifiable economic benefits.

The U.S. Defense Department (DOD) seeks to procure renewable energy at or below market prices, and is not considering fast ramping generation in its current procurement plans. Because there is no economic incentive for DOD to invest in such resources, and because markets for fast-ramping generation and ancillary services are largely non-existent, the current policy framework lacks a vehicle for attracting investment in fast-ramping distributed energy and related technologies. 

Manufacturers of fast-ramping generation equipment are studying issues relating to intermittent energy resources. Among other initiatives, they have developed economic models that demonstrate system-wide efficiencies produced by fast-ramping technologies. The models have been vetted by credible public and private sector organizations and found to be both accurate and insightful. 

With their policy expertise and purchasing power, the Department of Energy and DOD can play a role in developing policies and markets that allow such technologies to take hold and proliferate.  

SmartGrid/MicroGrid: Transformative Technology for Today's Energy Markets

I recently co-chaired an American Bar Association/American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) webinar on SmartGrid and Microgrid technologies. For my inaugural blog post on Renewable + Law, I wanted to share the brief remarks that I made at this July 17, 2013, webinar regarding the importance of both technologies to our evolving 21st Century energy sector: In setting the stage for the presentations, I put forth two propositions, which may be provocative, but highlight the importance of the topic:

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Upcoming Energy Efficiency Conference in Portland

The Citizens Utility Board (CUB), in partnership with the Univeristy of Oregon School of Law, will be presenting its 2nd Annual Policy conference on Energy Efficiency: The Next Generation on Friday, October 26, 2012, at the University of Oregon's White Stag Block (70 NW Couch Street). 

The all-day conference will focus on energy efficiency in the Pacific Northwest and its impact on the regional economy.  Featured speakers include Congressman Earl Blumenauer.  For more information, please visit the CUB Policy Center web site.

 

PNWER Energy Storage Conference, Pivotal Leaders Event--Portland, October 8

The Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) Energy Storage Coaliation (ESC) will be holding an important energy storage conference at the Portland Convention Center on October 8, 2012.  ESC has worked with the Oregon and Washington public utility commissions to bring together a diverse mix of developers, utilities and regulators to share their perspectives on opportunities and barriers to deploying energy storage in the Pacific Northwest.  You can find the draft agenda for the event here and register for the conference here.

Following the PNWER event, Pivotal Leaders will hold an Energy Storage Panel from 4-6 PM at the Portland offices of Perkins Coie, 1120 NW Couch Avenue, 10th Floor.  I will be joinging the panel with Dave Curry of Demand Energy, Praveen Kathpal of AES Corporation, and Lee Kosla of SAFT .  Guests are welcome, but an RSVP is required.  Contact ashley@pivotal-leaders.com.  I hope to see you at both of these events.

For those interested in energy storage, I regularly follow the topic on Twitter, @BillHolmesStoel.  The PNWER Energy Storage Coalition can also be found on Twitter, @PNWERESC.  Finally, www.stationarystoragenews.com is an excellent energy storage news aggregator that offers daily news and a weekly newsletter on the topic.

Enterprise Forum Northwest Seminar: Energy Storage for the Grid - May 8, 2012

Stoel Rives is pleased to sponsor this Enterprise Forum Northwest energy seminar. Moderated by our own Bill Holmes, the seminar’s panel of industry experts will address the where, how, why and at what scale questions regarding large-scale energy storage today. Topics covered in the event will include:

  • The most promising energy storage strategies
  • How the different storage methods could work together with the grid in the Northwest and nationally
  • How entrepreneurs, the changing energy marketplace, grid operators, and utilities are responding to the call to build the foundation for clean energy

For more information and to register, please visit http://www.mitwa.org/events/enterprise-forum-program/energy-storage-grid-watchful-waiting-or-perfect-storm
 

What: Energy Storage for the Grid: Watchful Waiting or the Perfect Storm?
When: Tuesday, May 8, 2012
5:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Where: MOHAI, 2700 24th Avenue East, Seattle WA

Upcoming Webinar on Order No. 755 (Frequency Regulation) and Energy Storage

 

In October 2011, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued Order No. 755, which requires regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs) to pay for frequency regulation services based on the actual amount of service provided in response to actual or expected frequency deviations or interchange power imbalances.  The order directs RTOs and ISOs to implement a two-part payment for frequency regulation services consisting of (1) a capacity payment that includes the marginal unit's opportunity costs, and (2) a performance  payment that reflects the quantity of frequency regulation service that a resource provides when it is accurately following the dispatch signal. In February 2012, FERC issued Order 755-A, denying a motion for rehearing filed by Southern California Edison. 

On Tuesday April 10, 2012, 11 am to 12:30 pm Eastern time (8 am to 9:30 am Pacific), I'll be moderating a Webinar produced by that Infocast to discuss the implications and effect of Order No. 755.  We'll review the Order itself, the process that is underway in the RTOs and ISOs to implement the Order, and the Order's implications for energy storage, demand response and other aspects of the frequency regulation market. 

Infocast has assembled an excellent panel for this Webinar.    Jacqueline DeRosa, Director of Regulatory Affairs, California, Customized Energy Solutions and Rahul Walawalkar, PhD, CEM, CDSM, Vice President,  Emerging Technologies Markets, Customized Energy Solutions,  will jointly provide a cross-market overview of the current approaches and proposed responses to Order No. 755 in key ISOs and RTOs (i.e., PJM, NYISO and CAISO) .   Eric Hsieh, Regulatory Affairs Manager, A123 Systems, Inc., (which participated actively in the Order No. 755 docket) will offer a technology provider's perspective on the order and the ongoing process.   Praveen Kathpal, Director of Marketing and Regulatory Affairs, The AES Corporation, will provide the perspective of a technology-neutral independent energy storage developer.

You can register for the Order No. 755 conference here.  Use the Stoel Rives discount code (128505”) to reduce the tuition to $150.

In the meantime, for those who are following energy storage, I'm "tweeting" regularly on that topic at @BillHolmesStoel (#energystorage)

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!

Upcoming Event: Energy Storage for the Grid: Watchful Waiting or the Perfect Storm?

I'll be moderating Energy Storage for the Grid: Watchful Waiting or the Perfect Storm? at the MIT Enterprise Forum Northwest's May 8, 2012 program at Seattle's Museum of History and Industry (MOHAI) , 2700 24th Ave East.  The event, which includes a networking reception, will be held from 5:00 to 8:30 pm. 

The evening's panelists will be:

  • Terry Oliver, Chief Technology Innovations Officer, Bonneville Power
    Administration
  • Alexander H. Slocum, Professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Chris Wheaton, Chief Operating & Financial Officer, EnerG2
  • Nathan Adams, Manager of Development and Emerging Technologies, Puget Sound Energy

Among other topics, the panel will address:

  • The most promising energy storage strategies
  • How different storage methods could work together with the grid in the Northwest and nationally
  • How entrepreneurs, the changing energy marketplace, grid operators, and utilities are responding to the call to build the foundation for a clean energy economy 

For more information about this event, visit MITEF Northwest's web site

I hope to see you there!  In the meantime, for those who are following energy storage, I'm "tweeting" regularly on that topic as well as Department of Defense renewables procurement  at @BillHolmesStoel (#energystorage)

 

CUB Policy Center and UO Hold Inaugural Smart Grid Conference in Portland

The CUB Policy Center, in partnership with the University of Oregon School of Law,  will be holding its inaugural policy conference: Smart Grid: Today's Regulation and Tomorrow's Technology, on Friday, October 21, 2011, at the University of Oregon White Stag Block (70 NW Couch St., Portland, OR 97209).  The luncheon keynote speaker will be former FERC Commissioner Nora Mead Brownell, who is the co-founder of ESPY Energy Solutions.

The conference is designed to educate utility analysts, policy analysts, attorneys, industry professionals, stakeholders and others on the current regulatory environment in Oregon and the region and to provide a forum for investigating the opportunities and challenges of integrating the Smart Grid into that environment. The CUB Policy Center notes that space for this conference, which promises to be well attended, is limited and encourages attendees to register early.   

I'll be participating in the Closing Panel to recap and discuss lessons learned during the day, and I hope to see you there.

EPRI's Call to Action: It's Time for Grid Operating System 3.0

The Electric Power Research Institute (“EPRI”) recently released the smart grid white paper: “Needed: A Grid Operating System to Facilitate Grid Transformation.” The white paper dissects the first two distinct phases in grid operating systems and then calls for the creation of the 3rd. In order to support the “tectonic changes” already happening in the power system, EPRI offers to help fund, facilitate and catalyze the development of the architecture and functional specifications for Grid 3.0. Without this development, EPRI argues, “the full value of a lot of individual technologies like electric vehicles, electricity energy storage, demand response, distributed resources, and large central station renewables such as wind and solar will not be fully realized.”

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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.

CPUC Seeks Comments in AB 2514 Electric Storage System (ESS) Docket R.10-12-007

California’s AB 2514 directs the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) to determine appropriate targets, if any, for load-serving entities to procure viable and cost-effective energy storage systems. If the CPUC decides that targets are appropriate, it is supposed to set dates for achieving those targets.

As a follow up to an AB 2514 workshop held on June 28, 2011, Administrative Law Judge Amy C. Yip-Kikugawa issued a ruling asking for comments on the presentations made at the workshop by the California Energy Commission, the California Independent System Operator, Southern California Edison, the California Energy Storage Alliance, AES Energy Storage, Beacon Power Corporation and KS Engineers, all of which were attached to the ruling. The ruling asks the parties to comment on whether they agree or disagree with the presentations.

In addition, the ruling seeks comments from parties on the following questions:

  1. Which barrier(s), either identified by the presenters or the CPUC, do you believe present the greatest impediment to more widespread usage of energy storage and development of ESS in California?
  2.  

  3. Are there other barriers that were not identified during theworkshop? Please explain how these other barriers impede theusage or development of energy storage and whether they needto be resolved at the Commission or other forums.
  4.  

  5. To whatextent can the Commission assist in removing these barriers?In your opinion, are there certain barriers that need to beresolved first, and therefore have higher priority?

The deadline for comments is August 29, 2011, and reply comments will be due September 16, 2011. Your can find a copy of the ruling and attachments here.

PG&E Unveils its Smart Grid Deployment Plan

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”) released its Smart Grid Deployment Plan which represents a disciplined and integrated approach to using new monitoring and control technology to provide safe, reliable, responsive and environmentally sustainable service to its customers in Northern and Central California. 

The 290-page Plan includes future projects that will take advantage of a wide range of advanced communications, computing, sensing and control technologies. PG&E hopes to improve service and reliability, lower customer costs and incorporate more renewable energy onto the grid, all in accordance with the California Public Utility Commission’s decisions and policies implementing California's Smart Grid bill.

The Plan adopts several high-priority objectives to guide PG&E’s Smart Grid investments and initiatives over the next 10 years. Those objectives include the following:

  1. To engage customers, PG&E will:
    1. Use the existing SmartMeterTM technology to allow customers not only to view but to modify their energy usage;
    2. Improve the use of demand response resources in energy and ancillary service markets; and
    3. Invest in infrastructure to support the electric vehicle market.
  1. To support Smart Energy Markets, PG&E will:
    1. Improve its forecasting of market conditions; and
    2. Integrate renewable resources (primarily wind and solar) on a large scale into the grid.
  1. To support Smart Utility practices, PG&E will:
    1. Improve its response to outages;
    2. Enhance its grid monitoring and control;
    3. Maintain system voltage levels; and
    4. Improve substation monitoring.
  1. PG&E will also continually improve and upgrade the infrastructure supporting the smart grid. 

The Plan can be found at:  

http://www.pge.com/includes/docs/pdfs/shared/edusafety/electric/SmartGridDeploymentPlan2011_06-30-11.pdf

 

PSU's Hatfield School of Government Offers "Summer Series on the New Energy Economy"

This summer, the Center for Public Service at the Hatfield School of Government at Portland State University will be offering a series of short, 2-3 day classes under an umbrella called the "Summer Series on the New Energy Economy."  These are non-credit courses, specifically designed for energy industry leaders, a wide range of professionals, and other community members with an interest in learning more about key energy topics.The series is being coordinated by Jeff Hammarlund, one of PSU’s adjunct faculty, who in recent years has taught a series of popular classes on various aspects of the Smart Grid.

The summer series will kick off with the first class on July 11-12. Entitled  "Dissolving Complex Problems in the New Energy Economy," this course will bring a systems science focus to core energy structure, regulation, and policy questions. Other classes, which will run in July, August, and September, include

     * Green Inc: Business Models for the New Energy Economy (July 13-15);

     * Comprehending the Climate Conundrum (July 25-27);

     * Riding the Waves of Change: Project Management and the New Energy Economy (August 10-12); and

     * The Smart Grid and Sustainable Energy Systems (September 14-16);

Additional information and registration instructions can be found here. If you have specific questions, contact Christine Hanolsy at PSU at 503-725-5114 or hanolsy@pdx.edu.

 

Coming Very Soon: CPUC Energy Storage Workshop

On Tuesday, June 28, 2011, the CPUC will hold an “Electric Energy Storage Workshop” as part of its R10-12-007 proceeding for AB 2514, which defines the process by which the CPUC will consider electric energy storage standards for California’s investor owned utilities. The workshop will be held at in the Golden Gate Room at CPUC’s headquarters from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm.

According to a draft agenda circulated by the CPUC, the theme of the workshop will be addressing barriers to entry facing Electric Energy Storage (EES). The workshops goals are to identify actions that the CPUC should consider, as well as whether and how it should participate in other forums.

The morning will feature presentations from several different perspectives, with each presentation to be followed by Q&A:

 

  • Presentation from UC Berkeley and California Energy Commission (CEC) team on “2020 Vision Project”
  •  

  • Presentation from CAISO about recent storage-related activities at the Independent System Operator, including findings from recent studies.
  •  

  • Presentation from Southern California Edison (SCE) discussing a white paper entitled Moving Energy Storage from Concept to Reality.
  •  

  • Presentation from California Energy Storage Alliance about developer’s perspectives

The afternoon will feature a facilitated presentation about a staff straw proposal concerning potential CPUC actions. The CPUC will allow parties to provide post-workshop comments on both the presentations and the staff straw proposal.

The CPUC is willing to accommodate short presentations (five minutes or less) or share prepared material pertinent to the workshop. Any party who wishes to do so may contact Michael Colvin at michael.colvin@cpuc.ca.gov. For reference (or inspiration), a series of energy storage presentations made to the CPUC as part of its 2011 IEPR process can be found here.

Stoel Rives attorneys Seth Hilton and Janet Jacobs will be attending the workshop.

Energy Storage Industry Expresses Optimism at Energy Storage Association Annual Meeting

This week I attended the 21st Annual Meeting of the Energy Storage Association in San Jose, California. The meeting broke its attendance record by attracting over 420 attendees, including representatives from electric energy storage (“EES”) technology companies, utilities, venture capital funds, consultancies and government agencies. Key note speakers included Dr. Imre Gyuk of the U.S. Department of Energy, Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner of the California Assembly, Fan Wong of Pacific Gas & Electric, and Vinod Khosla of Khosla Ventures. Over 50 other distinguished speakers presented lectures and materials on various topics including flow battery applications, advanced storage technologies, smart grid interface, lithium ion battery applications, economics and policy, and venture capital markets. 

The record attendance at the meeting and reports of successful pilot projects were strong indicators that the EES industry has matured over the past years. The general sense at the meeting was that the EES industry is poised to emerge from the product development stage and move into the commercialization and deployment stage. In order to successfully make that leap, the EES industry must first overcome several hurdles.

Prospective EES customers, including utility representatives, contended that, except for pumped hydro, EES applications are not yet cost competitive and that EES systems must achieve significant price reductions before they can be competitive. Various utility representatives encouraged the EES industry to continue to bring down costs with the goal of becoming cost competitive with gas peaker plants. 

Project developers and technology companies acknowledged this reality, but stressed that when comparing EES applications to gas peakers, it is imperative that the market recognize the broad range of combined value streams and utility benefits that EES applications offer. These benefits include:

  • Ancillary services and frequency regulation
  • Reactive power, voltage, and power quality
  • Renewable integration and smoothing
  • Multiple hour peak shifting
  • Demand response
  • Islanding
  • Deferred T/D upgrades
  • Minimizing spinning reserves

In addition to these benefits, various speakers emphasized the siting and permitting advantages EES enjoys over gas plants. From a land use perspective, EES applications are relatively low impact. Many EES projects can obtain required permits based on a negative declaration and thereby avoid the lengthy siting proceedings that can drag on for years for some thermal generation projects. These siting and permitting advantages that EES applications enjoy translate into reduced costs and quicker development timelines and give EES a distinct advantage over gas peakers. 

The future of EES will in part hinge on the development of supportive federal and state regulations. Accordingly, ongoing proceedings at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission are critical to the future of EES.

Further, EES system providers will face challenges in structuring transactions to finance and build EES projects. Consultants and legal advisors, including Stoel Rives attorneys, are currently wrestling with various options to solve these challenges.

The EES industry will meet again in San Diego for Infocast’s Storage Week  on July 11-14, and several Stoel Rives attorneys will be presenting and attending.

Stoel Rives' Mark Hanson and Greg Jenner to speak at Renewable Energy in the Midwest

Join Stoel Rives Partners Mark Hanson and Greg Jenner in Minneapolis, for Renewable Energy in the Midwest States: New Policy, Business and Legal Developments.  Here they will meet with leading renewable energy professionals, innovators and regulators to address opportunities and challenges for developers  and entrepreneurs in the Midwest renewable market and the developing Smart Grid sector.

Both Mark and Greg will present on Friday, August 26, and will discuss environmental issues and updates of federal and state programs, as well as ways to move renewable projects forward with less government support.

For full conference details, click here.

California Public Utilities Commission Holds Prehearing Conference on Energy Storage Procurement Targets

As we’ve previously discussed, California’s AB 2514 requires the CPUC and municipal utilities in California to open proceedings by March 1, 2012 to determine appropriate targets, if any, for the procurement of viable and cost-effective energy storage systems by load-serving entities. Over a year before that deadline, the CPUC opened Rulemaking 10-12-007 in December of last year to both implement AB 2514 and “on [the CPUC’s] own motion to initiate policy for California utilities to consider the procurement of viable and cost effective storage systems.” In early March, the CPUC held an initial workshop on the scope of the rulemaking proceeding.

On April 21, the Commission held a prehearing conference to determine the scope and schedule for the proceeding. Stoel Rives partner Seth Hilton attended the conference. Among the issues discussed at the prehearing conference, led by Administrative Law Judge Yip-Kikugawa, was whether to conduct the proceeding in phases (e.g., first examining how storage might be applied, and then in a subsequent proceeding setting what the mandate will be for storage procurement), the issues to be covered in each phase , and whether evidentiary hearings would be necessary. 

According to ALJ Yip-Kikugawa, a scoping memo should issue in the next two to three weeks. The scoping memo will set out the issues to be considered in the proceeding and a schedule for their resolution. 

We'll be posting further information on Renewable + Law Blog when the scoping memo comes out, so stay tuned for further developments.

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.

 

RFI for Substation-Size Li-ion Energy Storage System Demonstration Project

Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Technology Transition Corporation recently issued a request for information (RFI) to prepare for multiple demonstrations and the market introduction of 1MW / 2MWh lithium ion battery energy storage systems (ESS) for electric utility grid management solutions.  EPRI and TTC have assembled a utility team for this project, and they encourage manufacturers of Li-ion systems and energy storage system integrators to respond to the RFI. The utility team will evaluate the responses to determine which ESS suppliers should be invited to a 2-day utility-manufacturer workshop to be held in June 2011 to discuss the project’s technical specification and demonstration plans.  The responses to the RFI will also influence the forthcoming Request for Proposals and the technical specification for approximately three demonstrations scheduled for 2012.

To be considered for participation in the proposed ESS project, including receipt of the resulting RFP in Q3 2011, responses must be received electronically, by 8 pm (20:00) Eastern Time, Monday, May 2, at storagespec@ttcorp.com.  A detailed description of the RFI process and the RFI response form can be found on the Technology Transition Corporation's website, here

Thanks to Emanuel Wagner, Project Coordinator for TTC, for bringing this RFI to my attention.  According to Emanuel, this would be the first Li-ion storage project of this size in the US, if not the world.  

Budget Compromise Looks OK for Projects in DOE Loan Guarantee Pipeline

The current version of the budget compromise provides relatively good news for projects seeking DOE loan guarantees. During the past several months, renewable energy projects in the DOE’s Loan Guarantee pipeline have been exposed to substantial uncertainty as a result of the budget crisis in DC. The developers of these projects have previously invested substantial resources to apply to the program which would become wasted effort if the program funds evaporate as the projects wait for DOE approval. The Loan Guarantee Program Office led by Jonathan Silver was clearly aware of this issue and prudently allowed all open solicitations to expire in early 2011 without issuing any new ones. The renewable energy project developers’ concern has been that the budget deal would involve a substantial claw back of previously appropriated funds that have not yet been committed to projects. 

The battle is not yet resolved but the current compromise is encouraging for these projects. There is a claw back of $18.183 billion in uncommitted funds but these were funds appropriated under provisions that required that the Credit Subsidy Cost to be paid by developers. The Credit Subsidy Cost was the bane of the Loan Guarantee Program as it essentially required the program applicant to cover the present value risk that the project would default on the loan. The Stimulus Bill solved this problem and greatly increased the attractiveness of the Loan Guarantee Program by appropriating funds to cover the Credit Subsidy Cost. Similarly, the current budget compromise appropriates an additional $1.183 billion in funds and allows these funds to be utilized to cover Credit Subsidy Costs. Thus, while the provision claws back funds, these are funds that were not attractive due to program limitations whereas new funds are appropriated to the preferred program. In addition, the proposed legislation imposes an Office of Management and Budget certification of compliance requirement as a control on the program.

The current bill is HR 1473 and is likely to be voted on later this week and thus is still subject to amendments. To obtain the latest details and access to the bill, see the Open Congress site at http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h1473/show 

California Public Utility Commission to Reopen Rule 21 Working Group

A report from Stoel Rives attorney Jake Storms (Sacramento):

The California Public Utility Commission (“CPUC”) recently announced that it will reopen the Rule 21 Working Group. Rule 21 governs the interconnection of distributed generation to a utility’s distribution system.

Each of the three largest investor-owned utilities—Pacific Gas and Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas and Electric—have a version of Rule 21 in their electric tariffs, which are subject to approval by the CPUC. The last Rule 21 workshop was held in 2008. The CPUC stated that, given the substantial changes in the technical and regulatory landscape in the past several years, Rule 21 is in need of reconsideration and has set forth a list of issues it believes should be addressed by the new Working Group. These include:

• The need for transparency in processing, queue information, and customer application information

• The need for review and potential reconsideration of technical screens within Rule 21 to ensure that the appropriate issues are being studied

• The need for articulation of cost-allocation methodology when network upgrades are required

• The need for review of utility tariffs for consistency with each other and with state law

• The need for additional standard interconnection agreements to accommodate the different types of distributed generation projects anticipated to come online

The first meeting of the Rule 21 Working Group will be Friday, April 29, 2011 from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at the Auditorium of the CPUC located at 500 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco, CA.

OPUC Circulates Straw Proposal for Utility Smart Grid Planning

From our colleague Sara Bergan:

In late 2009 the Oregon Public Utilities Commission (OPUC) initiated Docket No. UM 1460 focused on Smart Grid (SG) planning. More recently in October, and after public input on the scope of the proceeding, OPUC staff circulated a Straw Proposal for Utility Smart Grid Planning. The proposal groups SG issues into three broad categories: 1) Goals and Guidelines for all Smart Grid Plans; 2) Smart Grid Plan Structure and Content; and 3) Smart Grid Plan Submission, Review and Use in Future Proceedings. The Straw Proposal can be accessed here.

A public workshop on the straw proposal will be held on November 3, 2010 (9:30-3:30) in the Small Hearing Room at the OPUC. The purpose of the workshop is to discuss the proposal and answer questions about the use and specificities of the proposal.

Smart Grid Oregon Announces Its First Policy Conference--November 9, 2010

Following on the heels of a September 2010 report by GTM Research forecasting that the smart grid market in the U.S. will grow more than 70%, from $5.6 billion in 2010 to $9.6 billion by 2015, Smart Grid Oregon today announced the new organization’s first conference to be held on November 9, 2010 at the World Trade Center in downtown Portland.

The conference will feature keynoters Kurt Yeager, Executive Director of the Galvin Electricity Initiative and President and Chief Executive Officer of the Electric Power Research Institute; and Roy Hemmingway, past Chair of the Oregon Public Utility Commission and also past Chair of the New Zealand Electricity Commission.

 

Smart Grid Oregon is a trade association that was launched in June 2009 and is dedicated to making Oregon a leader in the implementation of Smart Grid technologies and in supporting companies that build and market Smart Grid products and services.  The aim of the first Smart Grid Oregon Public Policy Conference is to help public and utility officials, regulators, legislators, city and county governments and other stakeholders in Oregon and the region gain a better understanding of the Smart Grid and policy decisions that will need to be addressed in the coming years.

 

Stoel Rives is a member of Smart Grid Oregon, and we are a sponsor of the November 9 conference.  See you there!

To learn more, go to www.smartgridoregon.org or contact Ashley Henry at Ashley@smartgridoregon.org or 503-866-9191.

Sen. Kerry's Energy Tax Bill Would Help Energy Storage Technologies

On August 5, 2010, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced S.3738—the Clean Energy Technology Leadership Act of 2010—which would have some impact on the growth of energy storage technologies in the United States. 

Among other things, the bill would provide for an extension and modification of the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit (the “MTC”), a credit authorized under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act aimed at stimulating and expanding the domestic manufacturing industry for clean energy technologies.  The MTC is also referred to as Section 48C of the Internal Revenue Code (the “IRC”). The proposed modifications would extend the MTC to “statutory advanced energy property,” the definition of which includes property used exclusively to manufacture or fabricate fuel cell power plants and systems for the electrochemical storage of electricity (other than lead-acid batteries) for use in connection with electric grids. 

Also noteworthy is that S.3738 is similar to the STORAGE 2010 Act, introduced by Sens. Bingaman (D-NM), Wyden (D-OR), and Shaheen (D-NH) in July. Click here for more on that bill. Both bills amend Section 54C of the IRC to allow grid-connected energy storage systems to qualify for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (“CREBs”). In addition to including energy storage technology in the CREBs program, S.3738 would expand the program by increasing the national new clean renewable bond limitation by $3.5 billion in 2010; sixty percent (60%) of that amount must be allocated by the Department of the Treasury to public power providers, and forty percent (40%) must be allocated to electric cooperatives. 

A major distinction between Sen. Kerry’s bill and the STORAGE 2010 Act is that Sen. Kerry’s bill does not add energy storage devices to the list of technologies eligible for the federal investment tax credit.  The full text of the bill can be found here.

FERC Comments on Electric Storage Technologies Due August 9

Just a friendly reminder that the deadline to submit comments to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) on electric storage technologies is just around the corner. In its Request for Comments Regarding Rates, Accounting and Financial Reporting for New Electric Storage Technologies, FERC’s Office of Energy Policy and Innovation seeks comments on the following issues: 

  1. The use of and rate treatment for storage facilities, including when it is appropriate to classify a storage facility as a transmission asset.
  1. The mechanisms by which a storage project that is used for multiple purposes may be compensated. Specifically, FERC seeks comment on whether a storage project may be compensated as transmission (e.g. for supporting unbundled transmission service by supplying reactive power) and also be compensated for providing ancillary services or for enhancing the value of merchant generation (e.g. by shifting output from an off-peak period to an on-peak period).
  1. The possibility of creating a stand-alone contract storage service and whether the storage provider would provide the service of electricity storage, enabling its customers to determine how to use their contracted share of the storage.
  1. Whether new accounting and reporting requirements should be created in order to facilitate cost of service or other rate policies for new storage technologies, such as chemical batteries and flywheels.

In addition to the issues outlined above and other specific questions posed by FERC in its Request for Comments, FERC invites comments on other related aspects of the storage issues not specifically addressed by FERC in the above-referenced document.  Comments are due on Monday, August 9, 2010 and should reference Docket No. AD10-13-000.     

CPUC Staff Issues White Paper on Electric Energy Storage (EES)

Energy Electricty Storage (EES) is likely to become more and more important as intermittent solar and wind energy resources penetrate the grid.   EES may be a very useful and perhaps essential way to manage the variability of intermittent renewable energy resources to allow developers to continue building wind and solar projects at an accelerating pace.

On July 9, 2010, the Policy and Planning Division of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) issued an interesting Staff White Paper entitled "Electric Energy Storage: An Assessment of Potential Barriers and Opportunities." The report is worth reading for those who are interested in the future of renewable energy and the roll that EES can play in enhancing the deployment of intermittent renewables.

The report describes "a promising new set of Electric Energy Storage ("EES") technologies [that] appear to provide an effective means for addressing the growing problems of reliance on an increasing percentage of intermittent renewable generation resources."  The report observes that EES can provide several basice services, such as (1) supplying peak electricity demand by using electricity generated during periods of lower demand (e.g., storage of wind energy generated at night for use during daily peak periods), (2) balancing electricity supply and demand fluctuations over a period of minutes, and (3) deferring expansion of electric grid capacity (including generation, transmission and distribution). 

Potential storage technologies include pumped hydro, compressed air energy storage ("CAES"), batteries, thermal storage (e.g., solar thermal plants), flywheels, unltracapacitors and superconducting magnetic storage--the report provides short but helpful description of each technology.  Storage presents interesting legal and policy issues, because "[r]egulators are uncertain how EES technologies should fit into the electric system, in part because EES services provide multiple services such as generation, transmission and distribution."  In addition, "regulators do not yet know how EES costs and benefits should be allocated among these three main elements of the electric system." 

The report makes a number of recommendations, including that the CPUC should conduct a rulemaking to develop policies to remove barriers to the deployment of EES technology in California.  The report also proposes that the CPUC consider placing EES within California's energy resources loading order, require utilities to incoporate EES into their integrated resource planning processes, encourage CAISO to change ancillary service market rules to allow EES systems to more easily bid into regulation markets, and integrate EES into utility transmission planning.

The report concludes that "the major barrier for deployment of new storage facilities is not necessarily the technology, but the absence of appropriate regulations and market mechanisms that properly recognize the value of the storage resource and financially comepnsate the owners/operators for the services and benefits they provide."

You can find the report here.

CPUC Staff Issues White Paper on Electric Energy Storage (EES)

Energy Electricty Storage (EES) is likely to become more and more important as intermittent solar and wind energy resources penetrate the grid.   EES may be a very useful and perhaps essential way to manage the variability of intermittent renewable energy resources to allow developers to continue building wind and solar projects at an accelerating pace.

On July 9, 2010, the Policy and Planning Division of the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) issued an interesting Staff White Paper entitled "Electric Energy Storage: An Assessment of Potential Barriers and Opportunities." The report is worth reading for those who are interested in the future of renewable energy and the roll that EES can play in enhancing the deployment of intermittent renewables.

The report describes "a promising new set of Electric Energy Storage ("EES") technologies [that] appear to provide an effective means for addressing the growing problems of reliance on an increasing percentage of intermittent renewable generation resources."  The report observes that EES can provide several basice services, such as (1) supplying peak electricity demand by using electricity generated during periods of lower demand (e.g., storage of wind energy generated at night for use during daily peak periods), (2) balancing electricity supply and demand fluctuations over a period of minutes, and (3) deferring expansion of electric grid capacity (including generation, transmission and distribution). 

Potential storage technologies include pumped hydro, compressed air energy storage ("CAES"), batteries, thermal storage (e.g., solar thermal plants), flywheels, unltracapacitors and superconducting magnetic storage--the report provides short but helpful description of each technology.  Storage presents interesting legal and policy issues, because "[r]egulators are uncertain how EES technologies should fit into the electric system, in part because EES services provide multiple services such as generation, transmission and distribution."  In addition, "regulators do not yet know how EES costs and benefits should be allocated among these three main elements of the electric system." 

The report makes a number of recommendations, including that the CPUC should conduct a rulemaking to develop policies to remove barriers to the deployment of EES technology in California.  The report also proposes that the CPUC consider placing EES within California's energy resources loading order, require utilities to incoporate EES into their integrated resource planning processes, encourage CAISO to change ancillary service market rules to allow EES systems to more easily bid into regulation markets, and integrate EES into utility transmission planning.

The report concludes that "the major barrier for deployment of new storage facilities is not necessarily the technology, but the absence of appropriate regulations and market mechanisms that properly recognize the value of the storage resource and financially comepnsate the owners/operators for the services and benefits they provide."

You can find the report here.

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/

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:

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Treasury Creates Safe Harbor for Smart Grid Investment Grants

Yesterday, the Energy and Treasury Departments jointly issued guidance regarding the federal income tax treatment of Smart Grid Investment Grant payments received pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The guidance, which was issued as Revenue Procedure 2010-20, generally provides that a corporation receiving a specified grant will not recognize taxable income upon receipt of the grant, but will be required to reduce the tax basis of its assets by the amount of the grant.

Stoel Rives issued a law alert today regarding this guidance, further exploring what the guidance addresses, and notably, does not address.

FERC Determines That Battery Storage Devices Qualify as Transmission Facilities. Is the Door Open for Other Energy Storage Devices?

In late January, FERC issued an order in response to a filing by Western Grid Development LLC that asked FERC to declare that Western Grid's proposed battery storage devices are transmission facilities eligible for certain rate incentives.  Western Grid described its battery technology as 10 to 50 MW sodium sulfur batteries that would be installed at strategic places on the California ISO transmission grid in order to provide voltage support and protect against transmission overloads.  In a description that seemed significant to FERC, Western Grid stated that its batteries would only enhance transmission reliability at the California ISO's direction, and that the batteries would not operate or participate in energy markets or provide electricity for commercial sale. 

FERC examines energy storage devices on a case-by-case basis because storage devices don't fit squarely within the traditional transmission, distribution, or generation categories of assets.  In this case, FERC gravitated to the notion that the battery devices would not provide capacity or energy to be sold in the energy market, and that Western Grid would not retain any revenues outside of the transmission access charge (unlike generators).  For these and other reasons, FERC distinguished Western Grid from similar filings (see Nevada Hydro II--pumped storage), and determined that Western Grid's technology will act enough like transmission assets to warrant eligibility for transmission rate incentives.  FERC's approval of rate incentives, however, was conditional upon the California ISO approving Western Grid's projects in the transmission planning process. 

Although FERC repeated numerous times that its decision was based on the "specific circumstances and characteristics" of Western Grid's projects, the order shows potential for energy storage devices.  If such devices can show that they act sufficiently like traditional transmission assets (like capacitors), they may be able to obtain very valuable transmission rate incentives.  Whether this opens the door for compressed air energy storage and pumped hydro (but see Nevada Hydro II) is still up in the air, but rest assured that these questions will be at FERC before too long.

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.

ARRA SGIG Grants Taxable?

 

Concern is mounting over whether the smart grid awards and project grants to be distributed by the Department of Energy (“DOE”) will be taxable in the hands of the recipients.  Certain grants administered by  federal, state, or local programs for renewable energy projects located in the US may be reportable by the recipient.  The 100 smart grid award recipients, who are waiting for their share of the promised $3.4 billion from the DOE, are anxious to resolve this issue as many of them prepared their budgets (and the DOE may have made the awards) on the assumption that the awards were going to be tax-exempt. 

 The DOE is working closely with the awardees and the Treasury Department to reach resolution and hopes to provide guidance shortly.  We’ll be following this story closely – stay tuned for developments.

Zino Green Investment Forum

The ZINO Society, a Seattle-based angel investment group, announced last week that its annual “ZINO Green Investment Forum” would be held on March 4, 2010, at the McKinstry Innovation Center in Seattle.   Up to fifteen early-stage companies in “green tech, clean tech, and sustainable products or services” will be selected by the ZINO Green screening board to present their businesses to angel investors and business leaders attending the investment forum. Finalists will be selected to compete for a $50,000 award from ZINO’s investment fund.

Last year’s winner of ZINO Society’s $50,000 GreenFund award was Hydrovolts, the developer of a hydrokinetic turbine.  After winning the award last year, Burt Hamner, CEO of Hydrovolts, stated that “Our new technology makes it possible to generate renewable energy from fast water currents that could not be tapped before, using a really novel turbine design.  It’s a challenge to explain [our technology] quickly and the presentation, coaching and business model feedback we received from ZINO Society members was incredibly helpful.” Hydrovolts went on to win the  2009 Clean Tech Open National Sustainability Award.

Stoel Rives has been a proud sponsor of The Zino Society since its inception.

The application to apply to present at ZINO Green may be found at https://angelsoft.net/angel-group/zino-society. More information about the event is available at ZINO’s website http://www.zinosociety.com/calendar/1143/ or by contacting Rob Brown at r.brown@zinosociety.com or 206-621-0466.

Come Visit Us at E3, The Midwest's Premier Energy, Economic and Environmental Conference, on Nov. 17, 2009

As a proud Exhibit Hall sponsor of E3, the Midwest’s premier energy, economic and environmental conference, Stoel Rives LLP would like to encourage you to attend this annual event. Hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment, E3 will focus this year on the intersection of innovative technologies and policies, environmental benefits and emerging market opportunities across the renewable energy spectrum.

Stoel Rives attorneys Mark Hanson, Bill Holmes and Greg Jenner are part of the event faculty. Mark will moderate a panel presentation on the challenges and opportunities of converting carbon dioxide to fuels. Bill will moderate a panel discussing exactly how sophisticated smart power grids need to be in order to scale up renewables as a major U.S. energy contributor. Greg, meanwhile, will participate in a panel discussion on the most efficient and effective strategies for financing renewable energy projects.

 

For more information and to register, please visit the following link: http://bit.ly/XUUjJ. We hope to see you there, and encourage you to visit our booth (#24). In addition to our presenters, Debra Frimerman, Kevin Johnson, Kevin Prohaska, Katie Roek, Mary Sennes, Joe Thompson and Vicki Twogood will be available to discuss any questions you may have. Don’t forget to pick up complimentary copies of our Law of Series handbooks, including The Law of Solar, The Law of Wind, The Law of Biofuels, The Law of Building Green, Lava Law,and our most recent additions The Law of Algae and Show Me the Money: The Law of the Stimulus (2d ed).

Wed. 10/21/09: "Demystifying the Smart Grid"

The enthusiasm about smart grid continues to spread in the Pacific Northwest.  Tomorrow, Intel’s Ronler Acres Campus (just outside of Portland) will host "Demystifying the Smart Grid," a panel and dinner event from 6 to 9 PM that will bring together industry experts and capital providers to discuss smart grid opportunities and the direction of current smart grid policy.  The event is being organized by the Oregon chapter of The Indus Entrepreneurs ("TiE Oregon")  in order to spur the exchange of ideas and information among entrepreneurs and innovators in the smart grid space.  Stoel Rives is proud to be a Charter Member of TiE Oregon.  My colleagues, Todd Bauman and Scott Olson will be in attendance.  To register for the event and view the list of panelists, click here.

Smart Grid Favored in FERC Strategic Plan

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) highlighted smart grid technologies in its strategic plan for fiscal years 2009-2014 (the “Strategic Plan”). FERC found that our nation could potentially reduce peak electricity demand by up to 20% through the deployment of new technologies, including smart grid and demand response technologies.
 

In the Strategic Plan, FERC is establishing the use of smart grid technologies in 50% of all new transmission projects by 2014. This goal will be met through the (i) increased the development of smart grid standards and protocols (through a process coordinated by the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and (ii) the implementation of rate treatment policies favorable to smart grid technologies in the interim period between development and approval of smart grid standards. FERC has set the following Annual Performance Targets:

·         FY2010: Assessment of transmission planning process best practices, including the potential for collaborative decision making, and issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking as appropriate

·         FY 2011: As appropriate, issue Final Rule on transmission planning process best practices

·         FY 2012: Implement Final Rule as appropriate

·         FY 2013: Monitor implementation and performance

·         FY 2014: Evaluate performance and seek changes as necessary

November 17: Energy, Economics and Environment (E3) Conference

The University of Minnesota’s annual conference on Energy, Economics and the Environment – E3 – will be held in St. Paul on November 17. Hosted annually by the University of Minnesota’s Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE), this year’s conference will explore current technologies, environmental benefits and market opportunities in renewable energy.

Stoel Rives will be a sponsor of the E3 conference and will, as usual, host a booth at the event. Minneapolis tax partner Greg Jenner will join a panel to discuss “What’s the most efficient and effective strategy for financing renewable energy projects?” To review the agenda and register for the conference, click here.

Show me the Money: $343 Million Deployed to Transmission Project in Washington and Oregon

The Department of Energy has announced that $343 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has been provided to the Bonneville Power Administration's ("BPA") McNary-John Day transmission project (the "McNary-John Day Line") in Washington and Oregon. 

The McNary-John Day Line runs 79 miles from the McNary Substation in Oregon, through Washington, and ending at the John Day Substation in Oregon.  The BPA has stated that the new line will help promote wind and other renewable energy generation in the Pacific Northwest. 

The McNary-John Day Line will be energized by 2012 and provide transmission service for over 575 megawatts of electricity. 

 

Show me the Money: DOE Proposes Amendments to its Loan Guarantee Program

Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to amend 10 CFR Part 609, the rule regulating the loan guarantee program authorized by section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  The two principal goals of section 1703 of Title XVII are to encourage commercial use of new or significantly improved energy-related technologies and to achieve substantial environmental benefits.  (See these recent alerts regarding the DOE loan guarantee program and the related application process)

After reexamining Title XVII, the DOE has concluded that the statute does not require a first lien on all project assets.  DOE has discovered that its current requirement that it be in lien position is in conflict with the financing structure of many energy projects.  For example, many utility scale power plants are jointly owned by public power agencies, cooperative power systems and investor-owned utilities.  In these cases, it may not be commercially feasible to obtain a lien on all project assets or the credit of a sponsor may be sufficient to support a more modest pledge of assets.

Furthermore, DOE has found that other parties are interested in participating as co-lenders, co-guarantors, or insurers of Title XVII loans.  However, these other parties expect to share, on a pari passu basis, in any collateral securing such loans.

Consequently, DOE proposes two amendments to the current rules:

  1. Delete the requirement of a first priority lien on all project assets and leave to the Secretary (of DOE) the determination of an appropriate collateral package, as well as intercreditor arrangements; and
  2. Allow the Secretary (of DOE) to determine if pari passu lending is in the best interests of the United States

 

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Show me the Money: $11.8 Million Awarded for Solar Energy Grid Integration

Today, in recognition that solar energy is a critical factor in the President's clean energy agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that $11.8 million ($5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) will be deployed to five projects related to the development of solar energy grid integration systems (SEGIS).  This follows our earlier client alerts regarding funding opportunities for solar technologies.

SEGIS activity began in 2008 with a partnership between DOE, Sandia National Laboratories, industry, utilities, and universities interested in complete system development.  Funded projects are related to the integration of solar technologies into the U.S. electrical grid while maintaining or improving power quality and reliability.

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Energy Storage Developers Call for National Storage Portfolio Standard

On July 13-14, 2009, I attended Infocast’s Storage Summit in La Jolla, California. The conference attracted over 200 attendees.

On day one, Jim Woolsey, Venture Partner and Senior Advisor for VantagePoint Venture Partners and Former Director of the CIA, delivered a keynote address that focused on the theme of the role of energy storage in achieving energy independence and security. Panel discussions included the following topics:

  1. Bringing Energy Storage to the Power Grid
  2. State Regulatory Policy
  3. Revising Regional Market Designs to Facilitate Storage: System Operators Views
  4. Utility Perspectives on Implementing Energy Storage
  5. Views of Storage Suppliers: What Policy and Market Change are Needed to Stimulate a Robust Storage Market?

On day two, Dr. Imre Gyuk, U.S. DOE Program Manager for Energy Storage Research, reported on ARRA stimulus funding initiatives and described research funding opportunities. With respect to the challenges facing DOE as it attempts to deploy massive amounts of funding, Gyuk stated, “It’s like trying to drink out of a fire hose.”

Many storage system developers reported that they are having problems “creating value” and monetizing their systems. These developers consistently called for a national storage portfolio standard similar to the RPS for renewable energy. This vibe created a lack of confidence in the attendees that were contemplating entering the market.

There was not much discussion of co-location of storage and renewable projects, but the wind and solar developers in attendance seemed open to the concept of co-location of storage if the price is right.

There was definitely a sense that the market is still in somewhat early stages.  However, a few days later, on July 16, 2009, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued a policy statement that identified energy storage as one of four grid functionalities that FERC views as key to the development of future standards that will apply to smart grid technologies.  Hopefully, FERC's support of the energy storage industry will stimulate further development and deployment of energy storage systems.

FERC Aims to Accelerate Smart Grid Deployment

On July 16, 2009, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued a Policy Statement on smart grid technologies, providing guidance on future smart grid interoperability standards and establishing an interim incentive rate policy that applies to near-term smart grid deployments (even those used in pilot or demonstration projects).  Notably, FERC identified four technologies as being key to smart grid development:  (1) digital devices and software that provide system operators with the near real-time ability to react to bulk power system conditions; (2) demand response; (3) electric storage devices, such as batteries and pumped storage, that will help integrate new resources into the grid; and (4) electric vehicles.  FERC intends that these technologies will inform both the smart grid standards development process as well as the Department of Energy's release of stimulus funds available under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.   

In addition, FERC established an interim rate policy that, once certain showings are made, will provide public utilities with the ability to recover the costs of FERC-jurisdictional smart grid technologies and the legacy systems being replaced.  The interim rate policy also allows public utilities to apply accelerated depreciation to smart grid deployments and recover the full cost of smart grid technologies that are later abandoned or made obsolete.  Public utilities seeking incentive rate treatment must file an appropriate application with FERC before it adopts smart grid interoperability standards.

For more information on FERC's Policy Statement, click here for our recently-released client alert.

If you would like to read the Policy Statement itself, click here.

Show me the Money: Applications Available for the Washington State Energy Program

Washington previously received $60.9 million in Recovery Act funding for its State Energy Program (“SEP”). The Washington Legislature later provided $38.5 million to the Washington State Community, Trade and Economic Development (“CTED”) agency to administer a loan and grant program for eligible projects in the areas of energy efficiency, renewable energy and clean energy innovation (see our earlier blog entry here for more details). The deadline for submitting a notice of intent to apply is July 27, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time, and the application is due August 17, 2009 at 5:00 p.m. Pacific time.

I attended an informational meeting held by CTED on July 13, 2009. The meeting provided an overview of the loan and grant program, as well as funding details, eligibility guidelines and evaluation criteria. Eligible projects can receive between $500,000 to $2 million in loans and grants in the first round, with the requirement that applicants provide other sources of funding at least equal to the amount of the loan or grant request. The non-SEP funding may include amounts spent or committed to the project since January 1, 2009. Projects will be evaluated based on the feasibility and quality of the project plan, the experience and qualifications of the project team, the ratio of matching funds to SEP funds, job creation, and energy savings/production. CTED intends to announce award decisions in September 2009.

Show me the Money: Applications Available now for Washington's State Energy Program

On July 1, 2009, Washington State’s Department of Community, Trade and Economic Development (“CTED”) issued application guidelines and forms for its State Energy Program (“SEP”) (available by clicking here). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (the “Recovery Act”) provided $60.9 million in new funding for Washington’s SEP. Subsequently, the Washington Legislature allocated $38.5 million to CTED to administer a loan and grant program for energy efficiency and renewable energy program (see our client alert, available here, regarding the legislative action). 

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Stoel Rives Expands Its San Diego Office

 

We welcome energy attorneys Morten Lund and David Quinby to the firm’s San Diego office as members of the Energy and Telecommunications group. They join attorneys Howard Susman and Brian Nese. The San Diego office has relocated to a larger space at 12265 El Camino Real, Suite 303, to accommodate further expansion (new contact information below).

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Morten Lund, formerly a partner with Foley & Lardner LLP in Milwaukee, has experience in a broad variety of financing transactions, with particular focus on the development and financing of wind and solar energy projects. Morten is a frequent presenter and author on renewable energy topics. He earned his law degree from Yale University in 1995 and obtained his A.B. at Augustana College in 1992. He is admitted to practice law in the state of Wisconsin and is pending bar admission to the state of California.

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David Quinby is the current office managing partner of the firm’s Minneapolis office, and will now split his practice between California and Minneapolis. He concentrates his practice on corporate, securities, finance, and merger and acquisition matters, with a particular focus on renewable energy clients and their project development efforts. David is admitted to practice law in the state of Minnesota and is pending bar admission to the state of California.

The California energy team's capabilities also include real estate, land use and permitting, equipment procurement and construction, state and federal regulation, environmental matters, and dispute resolution.

Stoel Rives has received a national ranking for its Renewables and Alternative Energy practice from Chambers USA: America's Leading Lawyers for Business (2009), rating among the top law firms in this category. The firm has been at the forefront of growth in renewables in recent years and represents many of the industry leaders in solar, wind energy, geothermal, biomass, hydroelectric, ocean, combined-cycle natural gas, carbon sequestration and biofuels project development in California, the United States, Canada and abroad.

For more information about the Stoel Rives Renewable Energy Group, visit www.stoel.com/renewableenergy or contact:

Howard Susman at  (8... or hesusman@stoel.com
David Quinby at  (8... or dtquinby@stoel.com
Morten Lund at  (8... or malund@stoel.com
Brian Nese at  (8... or bjnese@stoel.com

 

Show me the Money: Florida, Idaho, and Kansas State Energy Programs Received $77.1 Million from the Recovery Act

On June 24, 2009, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced more than $204 million in Recovery Act funding to ten states for their State Energy Programs ("SEPs"). 

Here is a summary of how the monies will be used in Florida, Idaho, and Kansas:

Florida's SEP will fund energy efficiency, renewable energy, and alternative fuels projects in the state.  Florida will deploy these funds through several loan and grant programs to promote the commercialization of new clean technologies.  Florida was awarded $50.4 million, and will receive an additional $63 million after demonstrating successful implementation of its SEP.

Idaho's SEP will launch a set up new programs, including the Renewable Energy Business Development Program, to further renewable energy development in the state while creating new jobs and stimulating the economy.  Further, new zoning regulations will be created to attract renewable energy developers and projects.  Idaho received $11.4 million and will receive more than $14 million in additional funding after demonstrating successful implementation of its SEP.

Kansas's SEP will launch several initiatives to boost energy efficiency in commercial buildings, increase financial options for renewable energy, and increase cost savings for individual homeowners in its state.  A portion of the money will also be deployed to create a new utility rate price plan and to fund an energy audit rebate plan.  Kansas received $15.3 million and expects to receive an additional $19 million after demonstrating successful implementation of its SEP.

 My colleagues are blogging on the other states that received funds. 

Show me the Money: Seminar for Identifying Funding for Renewable Energy Projects

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides almost $94 billion dollars in direct and indirect spending to clean energy company and projects. See Show me the Money: A Guide to Sources of Funding through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act

On June 17, 2009, I will be speaking in Cle Elum, Washington about how to get your project "shovel ready" for Stimulus Funding.  The seminar will also include sessions on identifying sources of funding and application mechanics.

Please click here for event information

LLC Law Monitor

Renewable energy developers often use limited liability companies (LLCs) as project companies and to form entities for other purposes.  My partner Doug Batey has started a new law blog that will likely be helpful to those charged with setting up, understand and maintaining these LLCs.  Here's today's announcement: 

Stoel Rives LLP is pleased to introduce its new LLC law blog, LLC Law Monitor, at www.llclawmonitor.com

The LLC Law Monitor focuses on the rapidly developing laws affecting limited liability companies. LLCs are a popular form of business entity and are a relatively new development in the law. LLC statutes vary from state to state, and cases of first impression are being decided by state courts every month.

In light of this new and evolving legal environment, Stoel Rives has launched LLC Law Monitor to provide business executives, attorneys, accountants and other professionals engaged in or working with LLCs with timely updates and insights on the new and developing laws shaping this burgeoning business sector.

LLC Law Monitorauthor Douglas L. Batey has nearly 30 years of experience advising executives on corporate and business legal matters. His experience includes counseling clients in a wide range of industries on company formation, mergers and acquisitions, and general corporate governance matters.

We hope that you will find the LLC Law Monitor helpful.

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Douglas L. Batey
Stoel Rives Corporate Attorney

"Show Me The Money"

 

We announce the publication of a guide to federal clean energy funding opportunities under the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (“ARRA”). Titled “Show Me The Money,” the guide reviews the various programs and potential sources of federal funding for clean energy companies and projects. The guide addresses funding opportunities under the ARRA for each of the following energy industry areas: wind, solar, biofuels, biomass, smart grid, transmission, geothermal, marine and hydrokinetic, green building, energy efficiency, advanced battery and fuel cell technology, clean energy equipment manufacturing, green vehicles and clean coal. The guide also contains information about some of the funding opportunities and updates at the federal and state level which we will continue to track closely.

Upcoming Webinar: Four Primary Ways the Stimulus Bill will Impact the U.S. Wind & Biofuels Industries

Biofuels Journal and Wind Today Magazine are hosting this free webinar on April 14, 2009 at 2 p.m. Central Time.

Please join me and my colleague, Graham Noyes, as we discuss the Obama Administration’s economic stimulus package and how it will impact the wind and biofuels industries.

REGISTER HERE: https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/244944960  

There will also be a live Twitter feed available at #stimulusbill

Topics covered include:

• Stimulus Grants and the DOE Loan Guarantee Program - the Administration has provided $2.5 billion in grants for R&D and Demonstration projects; expanded the Loan Guarantee Program by $5 billion; as well as promised to streamline the application processes and speed the release of funds to biofuels plants and other projects under these programs.

• The Production Tax Credit vs. the Investment Tax Credit - review of the varying incentive programs available for wind energy projects.

• Grants In Lieu of Tax Credits - consideration of when grants will provide the highest value for projects.

• The Pending Smart Grid and how this is likely to impact the rapidly growing but transmission constrained wind industry in the U.S.
 

President Obama Clamps Down on Lobbyists and First Amendment

On March 20th, President Obama issued a directive to the heads of executive branch departments and agencies.  The directive is aimed at achieving the laudable goal of ensuring merit based decision-making for grants and other forms of stimulus funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (usually referred to as the Stimulus Bill).  It seems that while candidate Obama promised repeatedly during his campaign to limit the influence of lobbyists in Washington DC, the passage of the Stimulus Bill has sent record numbers of lobbyists to D.C. to scramble for federal dollars.

In apparent response to this, President Obama has singled out registered lobbyists and regulated their contacts with the executive branch.  His directive provides that “executive department or agency officials shall not consider the view of a lobbyist registered under the Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995, concerning particular projects, applications, or applicants for funding under the Recovery Act unless such views are in writing.”  Officials are directed to inquire regarding the possible presence of registered lobbyists both upon the scheduling and commencement of phone calls and in-person conversations “with any person or entity concerning particular projects, applications, or applicants for funding under the Recovery Act.”  If any registered lobbyists are detected, the directive forbids them from attending the meeting or participating in the phone call.

Not surprisingly, the American League of Lobbyists (ALL) has objected to the Obama Administrations restrictions.  In a demonstration that politics does indeed sometimes make strange bedfellow, ALL has been joined by the ACLU and the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW).  In a letter to the President released Tuesday, these three groups requested that President Obama rescind the constitutionally offensive provisions of the directive immediately.   

As tempting a political target as they may be, registered lobbyists have a place in our political system and rights under our Constitution.  The President should heed the groups’ advice and tailor his directive to enable transparency while not muzzling any voices--including those paid to advocate.

A Superconductor Pipeline for Renewable Energy

Among all the interesting presentations at this month's AWEA transmission and wind workshop, American Superconductor's presentation about developments with superconducting transmission lines was particularly noteworthy.  Superconducting direct current lines offer greater efficiency, as well as siting and aesthetics benefits, but have historically fallen victim to much higher costs when compared to traditional overhead transmission lines.  However, with talks of extra-high voltage "green superhighways" transmitting renewable energy from the nation's interior to load zones, it appears from American Superconductor that the costs of a 5 GW, 200 kV superconductor line are nearly equivalent to 765 kV overhead lines when built on a 1,000 mile scale.  Perhaps we will see a superconducting pipeline instead of an extra-high voltage overlay.

For more information about the viability of superconducting transmission lines, look for American Superconductor's White Paper in the near future.  

 

 

Stimulus Bill Funding for Data Center and Telecom Technology Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Enhanced Geothermal Systems, and More

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the “Stimulus Bill,” allocated billions of dollars in funding for renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and other projects under the energy and climate change umbrella. Of the vast sums of money available for such projects, $16.8 billion goes to the U.S. Department of Energy’s (“DOE”) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (“EERE”). Another $4.5 billion in direct spending on smart grid demonstration projects will be overseen by DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. 

On March 5th, DOE’s EERE Industrial Technologies Program (“ITP”) released a Notice of Intent to issue funding for technologies that increase the energy efficiency of server-based information and communication technology (“ICT”) systems housed in data centers and telecommunications central offices. The solicitation seeks proposals for projects that would increase the efficiency of IT equipment, software, power systems, and cooling systems. The solicitation also extends to the demonstration and field-testing of pre-commercial technologies in these areas, as well as in distributed generation or alternative power technologies used to power ICT systems. ITP intends to release the solicitation sometime this month. 

DOE also recently announced its intention to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (“FOA”) for smart grid demonstrations. In addition, DOE issued two FOAs for enhanced geothermal systems (“EGS”). The EGS FOAs offer up to $84 million over six years, including $20 million for the 2009 fiscal year. Check out our recent Energy Law Alert for more information on DOE funding for smart grid demonstrations and enhanced geothermal systems.   

Because of the relatively short window for responding to FOAs, DOE recommends that prospective applicants complete several one-time pre-application steps. Information on submitting applications is available at www.grants.gov.