Thomas Braun

Thomas Braun

Thomas Braun assists clients in a wide variety of litigation matters and has extensive experience in matters related to the enforcement of federal and state environmental programs. He also has worked with legal issues related to contracts, transactions, and mergers and acquisitions.

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Eighth Circuit Panel Rules Minnesota Climate Change Law Unconstitutional

Today, the Eighth Circuit determined that the Next Generation Energy Act (“NGEA”), a Minnesota law that established power sector standards for carbon dioxide emissions, was unconstitutional (decision available here). In so doing, the Court affirmed the decision of District Court Judge Susan Nelson, whose 2014 decision we covered in “Court Declares Minnesota Coal Law Unconstitutional: … Continue Reading

Minnesota Legislature Looks to Jump Start Renewable Energy Exports

The Minnesota State Legislature is currently debating a bill that would ease the regulatory burden on independent power producers looking to export wind and solar energy generated in Minnesota. Minnesota law currently prohibits the construction of a large energy facility without the issuance of a certificate of need by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. This … Continue Reading

Wisconsin Legislature Debates Increased Renewable Portfolio Standard

Democratic legislators in Wisconsin plan to unveil a plan this week that would require investor-owned utilities, municipal utilities, and rural electric cooperatives (“electric providers”) to increase their renewable electricity portfolios to 30% by 2030. Wisconsin’s current renewable portfolio mandates that electric providers obtain 10% of their retails sales from electricity generated from renewable resources by … Continue Reading

Xcel Plans 600 Megawatts of New Wind Power

Xcel Energy, the nation’s leading wind power utility, announced yesterday that it will add three large wind farms to its wind energy portfolio.  The 600 megawatt increase is the utility’s single largest increase in its Upper Midwest service area. The 33 percent increase will augment Xcel’s existing 1,800 megawatts of wind capacity and allow it … Continue Reading

Recent Seventh Circuit Decision Could Impact Minnesota’s Coal Moratorium

 The United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit recently issued a decision in Illinois Commerce Commission, et al., v. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”), which has the potential to influence and provide direction for the federal district court currently considering the constitutionality of Minnesota’s Next Generation Energy Act (“NGEA”).  In Illinois Commerce Comm’n, … Continue Reading

Update: Minnesota Senate Passes Energy Omnibus Bill

Today the Minnesota Senate passed its omnibus energy bill by a vote of 37-26.  This follows the Minnesota House of Representatives’ passage of its version of the bill on Tuesday.  The bills now move to a conference committee for consolidation.  After the conference committee completes its work, the consolidated bill will then return to each … Continue Reading

Minnesota Set to Boost In-State Solar Industry

The Minnesota State Legislature is considering a bold move to assist Minnesota’s fledgling solar industry. A new provision in the House transportation omnibus bill requires that any solar array installed on a building, highway, road, bridge, or land owned or controlled by the Minnesota Department of Transportation, must consist entirely of panels manufactured in Minnesota. … Continue Reading

IRS Increases PTC Incentive

The IRS recently announced that the production tax credit (“PTC”) will be more valuable in 2013.  In the April 3, 2013 edition of the Federal Register, the IRS issued an important piece of guidance for those in the renewable energy field, stating that the PTC incentive would increase for the 2013 calendar year, from 2.2 … Continue Reading

Community Solar Projects Coming to Minnesota

At a time when the Minnesota Legislature is considering a proposal that would create a solar electricity standard, community solar projects are gaining popularity.  Six weeks from now, Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association will begin construction on Minnesota’s first community solar program, with the goal of having the project completed by Memorial Day. A community solar … Continue Reading

Minnesota RES Expansion Moves Forward

 The Minnesota State Legislature’s attempt to expand the amount of electricity that utility companies secure from renewable energy sources cleared a major hurdle recently, as H.F. 956 was included in the House omnibus energy bill.  H.F. 956 proposes to increase Minnesota’s renewable energy standard (“RES”) to 40% by 2030.  The current standard requires that Minnesota’s … Continue Reading

Comment Period Coming to a Close for EPA’s Proposed Rule Creating New Quality Assurance Program for Renewable Identification Numbers

On February 21, 2013, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) opened the comment period on a proposed rule that would create a Quality Assurance Program (“QAP”) to combat fraudulently-created Renewable Identification Numbers (“RINs”) – a serial number assigned to a volume of biofuel for the purpose of tracking its production, use and, trade.  A public … Continue Reading

South Dakota Aims to Increase Development of Wind Power

South Dakota’s gusty plains are well known for their pheasant hunting potential.  Indeed, one is much more likely to see a pheasant utilizing the breeze to sail out of harm’s way than a turbine harnessing the wind to power a home or business.  Despite ranking in the top five states for best wind resources, South … Continue Reading
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