Thousands of solar industry participants gathered in Chicago for the Solar Power International expo in Chicago, Illinois on October 21-24 to discuss the state of the solar industry. Participatnts included banks, investors, developers and equipment suppliers, and also several Stoel Rives attorneys.
Many themes emerged during the week-long event, and a common thread running through these themes was “change.” The solar industry is undergoing significant changes, as demonstrated by the following:
- Stoel Rives announced that Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff will join the firm later this year following his impending resignation from the Commission;
- The regulatory environment continues to morph as the 1603 cash grant phases out while the ITC reemerges pending its expiration, net-metering battles rage on in multiple states, and California has required investor owner utilities to procure and invest in significant amounts of energy storage;
- Companies continue to search for investment grade projects while developers continue to hunt for PPAs with sustainable pricing;
- Chinese equipment manufacturers continue to factor in the space, and several companies from mainland China attended the expo for the first time, now also joined by a growing number of Taiwanese and Korean companies;
- As utility scale development opportunities in the United States continue to stagnate, many companies are turning their focus to Latin America where new and potentially lucrative opportunities are emerging;
- The industry seems ripe for consolidation and the remainder of 2013 and 2014 may witness several significant mergers.
In this time of significant change, Stoel Rives will continue to serve the solar industry by providing high quality legal services and innovative solutions for the issues of today and the issues of the future.
My colleagues Wayne Rosenbaum and Ryan Waterman authored, "DTSC Rulemaking Proposes to Classify All Discarded Solar Panels As Hazardous Waste" today on our California Environmental Law blog.
On June 27, California’s Department of Toxic Substance Control (“DTSC”) announced a 15 day comment period on new regulations concerning the disposal of photovoltaic (PV) modules—broadly defined as “any photovoltaic device that converts photons from the sun into electricity for general use . . . .”
The proposed rulemaking would treat discarded PV modules as Universal Waste, placing them in the same category as electronic devices, batteries, and aerosol cans. As such, PV modules would be subject to special handling and treatment rules, and would be barred from disposal in sanitary landfills. This could have significant impacts on decommissioning costs for PV arrays as well as increasing the costs of routine maintenance for operating systems.
While DTSC considered four options in developing the proposed rule, it considered and rejected the option of testing the modules for hazardous characteristics in favor of its preferred approach of declaring all non-functioning modules to be hazardous. DTSC’s rationale for this approach is based on the assumption that all damaged PV modules contain toxic heavy metals that have the potential to leach into the environment in toxic amounts. Accordingly, DTSC assumes that by defining all damaged modules to be hazardous, the rule would avoid ambiguity for end users and create a robust recycling industry. DTSC did not appear to consider the impacts the rule could have on attempts by PV manufacturers to reduce the use of metals in their products, however, and may unintentionally stifle innovation of green technologies.
Comments on the new rule will be accepted until 5 PM on Thursday, July 11, 2013. Details regarding DTSC’s rulemaking are available at: Proposed Regulations: Proposed Standards for the Management of Hazardous Waste Solar Modules
The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has issued an invitation for pre-qualification for selection of developers for a 560 megawatt geothermal project pipeline. The government of Kenya has granted KenGen a license to develop geothermal power plants in the Olkaria geothermal field located in the Rift Valley in Kenya. KenGen is embarking on a program to develop up to 560 MW of new generation in 140MW phases.
To meet this objective, KenGen is seeking to partner with developers through either (1) a joint venture, whereby KenGen and the developer will jointly develop and own the power plant, or (2) a tolling arrangement whereby the developer will build, own and operate the plant and KenGen will provide the steam.
Interested parties may submit an application for pre-qualififcation on or before November 2, 2012. Applicants must specify which option (JV or tolling agreement) they wish to pursue and meet other qualifications (experience, balance sheet, etc.) that are set forth in the KenGen tender available here.
On September 26, 2012, Georgia Power filed with the Georgia Public Service Commission a proposal for the creation of the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative, a program that would result in the procurement of up to 210 megawatts of solar generation through power purchase agreements. Of the 210 MWs, 180 will come from utility scale projects while 30 MW will come from distributed projects.
Utility Scale Projects. The proposal calls for Georgia Power to issue RFPs in 2013, 2014, and 2015 for utility scale solar projects up to 20 MWs in size and to be located in Georgia. The PPAs would have twenty year terms and with pricing not to exceed 12 cents per kWh.
Distributed Projects. Georgia Power will also enter PPAs with Small-Scale projects (up to 100 kW) and Medium-Scale projects (greater than 100kW and smaller than 1 MW). In each of 2013, 2014 and 215, Georgia Power will enter 10 MW worth of PPAs with Small/Medium-Scale projects until anoverall cap of 30 MW is reached.
More information and a copy of Georgia Power's filing is available here.
On June 22, 2012, SDG&E will host a forum on the Renewable Auction Mechanism. The forum will be held at the SDG&E Energy Innovation Center located at 4760 Clairemont Mesa Blvd, San Diego, CA 92117. The forum begins at 10 AM and concludes at 12 PM. The forum will also be available via webinar. In person or webinar reservations can be made by sending an email by June 19, 2012 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The forum will cover the following topics:
- Overview of the results of the November 2011 RAM (including feedback from the Independent Evaluator)
- Overview of the important changes between the November 2011 RAM and the May 2012 RAM
- Request for feedback from RAM participants and stakeholders on various topics, including: eligibility requirement, bid evaluation methodology (including Resource Adequacy value, and SDG&E process (website, email communication, Q&A, etc.)
Stoel attorney Brian Nese will be attending the forum.
This week the California Energy Commission's PIER program released a comprehensive report titled "2020 Strategic Analysis of Energy Storage in California." The report discusses the state of technology, policy, barriers to deployment and suggested reforms. A staff workshop related to the report will be held on November 15, 2011 at 10 am at the CEC located at 1516 Ninth Street, Sacramento, California 95814 (webex also available).
The Stoel Rives Energy Development group is proud to announce the publication of the third edition of Lex Helius: The Law of Solar Energy.
In the wake of recent state and federal policies and incentives, investment in solar energy has become increasingly competitive. Accordingly, our energy team desires to provide our readers with the most up-to-date solar market insights. The authors, contributors and editors of Lex Helius have done just that.
Lex Helius analyzes critical issues that solar power project developers confront during the development process, including real property acquisition, regulatory and permitting requirements, interconnection issues, power purchase agreements, financing, and construction contracting. The guide also discusses federal and state incentives available to solar projects, financing structures, market conditions, and sale and transfer of renewable energy credits.
The new edition of Lex Helius will be available at the Stoel Rives booth (#3043) at the Solar Power International 2011 conference in Dallas, October 17-20, 2011.
The guide can also be downloaded, along with the entire Stoel Rives “Law of” library at www.stoel.com/lawofseries.
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
- 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.
On May 31, 2011, the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) issued a scoping memo (“Scoping Memo”) identifying issues to be considered and setting a procedural schedule for its energy storage proceeding. In December, 2010, the CPUC opened Rulemaking 10-12-007 to implement the provisions of Assembly Bill 2514, which directs the CPUC to determine appropriate energy storage procurement targets for load serving entities. To date, the CPUC has issued an Order Issuing Rulemaking, held an initial workshop and a prehearing conference, and received public comments from interested parties. After considering such background and input, the CPUC issued the Scoping Memo.
The Scoping Memo splits the proceeding into two phases: Phase 1 – Policies and Guidelines and Phase 2 – Cost Benefit Analysis and Allocation. The Scoping Memo provides that Phase 1 will consider the following topics:
- How are energy storage technologies currently being used? To what extent are these current uses indicative of how energy storage should be utilized on a going forward basis? As the Commission is developing a generalized view towards energy storage, what lessons learned should the Commission consider, both in terms of successes and failures?
- What policies are needed to encourage effective energy storage that will: reduce greenhouse gas emissions; reduce peak demand; defer and/or substitute for an investment in generation, transmission or distributions; and improve reliable grid operations?
- How can energy storage technologies be best integrated into the utilities’ existing portfolios?
- How could energy storage technologies be integrated with the Commission’s loading order, such as energy efficiency, demand response, renewable procurement, distributed generation and other items in the Commission’s loading order? What about other overarching policies like smart grid?
- Are there current state or federal policies that impede the ability of energy storage technologies from being utilized more widely or serve as barriers to the development of energy storage systems? What, if anything, can be done to remove these impediments and barriers?
- Is it possible to develop a single unifying policy for energy storage when storage has a wide variety of uses?
- Regardless of the technology used, are there certain energy storage applications/attributes that should be encouraged? To what extent do the costs and benefits associated with these different applications/attributes differ?
- How should ownership model of energy storage be considered? Do the current value streams favor one type of ownership model over another?
The Scoping Memo contemplates that Phase 1 will involve a series of workshops, the first of which is set for June 28, 2011 at the CPUC Golden Gate Room, 505 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, CA.
The Scoping Memo notes that the outcome of Phase 1 will influence the scope of Phase 2. Accordingly, the Scoping Memo declines to set the scope of Phase 2, but states that Phase 2 shall consider at least the following topics:
- How should energy storage applications/attributes be valued?
- What are the costs for the various types of energy storage applications?
- What should be taken into consideration to determine whether energy storage technologies are cost effective? Should they be compared against the other types of resources currently being procured by the utilities? How should the benefits associated with energy storage technologies be taken into consideration when determining cost-effectiveness?
- How should the costs and benefits associated with energy storage technologies be allocated among retail end-use customers?
The CPUC will issue a future scoping memo to definitively set the scope of Phase 2.
Storage Week kicks off on July 11 with four in-depth market and technical tutorials to provide you with all the background details necessary to maximize your experience at the two-day main event. Network with every key group playing a role in rewriting the rules of power markets, from policy strategists, state regulators, and grid operators, to utility planners and IPPs, vendors and more. This event lines up block-buster case studies, key project developers, investors, engineering firms and consultants covering bulk storage development, as well as distributed storage business models.
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