Hania Younis

Hania Younis has no picture

Hania Younis is an associate in the Energy Development group, where she concentrates her practice on renewable forms of energy such as wind, biomass and solar energy, and on nonrenewable forms of energy. Hania also focuses on various phases of general commercial litigation, including discovery and motion practice.


Articles By This Author

Washington UTC Invites Comments on Distributed Energy Study

The Washington State House of Representatives Technology, Energy, and Communication Committee (TEC Committee) has asked the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (Commission) to provide to the State Legislature background information and detailed discussion of options to encourage the development of cost-effective distributed energy in areas served by investor-owned utilities, as well as the opportunities and challenges facing investor-owned utilities and their ratepayers in developing distributed energy in Washington.

The Commission is currently in the process of gathering information and reviewing existing literature concerning distributed energy. The Commission also seeks the perspective of investor-owned utilities, persons involved in developing distributed energy in the state, and others to better inform their efforts in this study. Attached here is the set of questions upon which the Commission seeks input.  This list includes questions that are both general and energy source-specific (e.g., solar, wind, hydro, etc.). The Commission provides an opportunity for interested persons to provide comments on these topics and questions by Friday, July 15, 2011.

The Commission also invites interested persons to a work session scheduled for Monday, July 25, 2011, in Room 206 of the Commission's headquarters, Richard Hemstad Building, 1300 S. Evergreen Park Drive S.W., Olympia, Washington.

For additional information, see the UTC Rulemaking Website (click on "UTC invites comments on a study of the potential for distributed energy in Washington State") and UTC Docket UE-110667.

Tags:

Washington UTC Issues Important Policy to Determine Eligibility of Renewable Energy Resources Under State EIA

For those interested in qualifying energy projects as “eligible renewable resources” under the Washington Energy Independence Act (EIA), the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission (WUTC) issued on June 7, 2011 an important new policy statement that provides processes by which utilities and developers may obtain either a non-binding or binding opinion regarding the eligibility of those resources.  Most importantly, these determinations may be obtained while projects are still in development, thereby easing the way for financing, formation of partnerships, and investments in research and development.

First, the Commission Staff has joined with staff of the Department of Commerce to establish an informal technical working group to provide non-binding technical analysis for guidance as to whether their proposed technology or resource is an “eligible renewable resource” under the EIA.  Because the opinions of the Commission Staff are not binding on the Commission, and the Auditor, not Commerce, determines compliance for COUs, the technical working group will only provide technical analysis, not a binding legal opinion.

Second, for those entities that seek a more formal, binding opinion on the eligibility of their proposed project, there is an option under the Washington Administrative Procedure Act.  Under the Act, any person may petition the Commission for a declaratory order with respect to the applicability to specified circumstances of a statute or rule enforceable by the Commission, such as RCW 19.285 or WAC 480-109-007.  Persons with standing to file such petitions may include investor-owned utilities and entities that propose to sell projects, project output, or RECs from projects to investor-owned utilities.

For more information, see the full policy statement from the WUTC website or contact any of the Seattle-based Stoel Rives energy attorneys listed below:

David Hattery at (206) 386-7528 or dphattery@stoel.com

Graham Noyes at (206) 386-7615 or jgnoyes@stoel.com

Hania Younis at (206) 386-7519 or hyounis@stoel.com

Washington State Legislature introduces another bill putting pressure on State RPS

The second of two bills that would drastically impact the Washington State Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was recently introduced in the Washington State Legislature.  HB 1890 would cut in half the amount of energy utilities are required to obtain from new renewable resources, and also allow them to offset renewable energy requirements with energy from fresh water sources and sources that predate March 31, 1999.

Currently, electric utilities in Washington that serve more than 25,000 customers are required to obtain the following percentages of their electricity from new renewable resources:

  • At least 3% by January 1, 2012
  • At least 9% by January 1, 2015
  • At least 15% by January 1, 2020

This has been the case since the passage of the Washington Energy Independence Act (EIA) in 2006. HB 1890 would cut these percentages in half -- requiring eligible utilities to acquire only 1.5% of their energy from renewable sources by 2012, only 4.5% by 2015, and only 7.5% by 2020. 

In addition, the EIA treats as eligible only incremental electricity produced as a result of efficiency improvements completed after March 31, 1999 and excludes energy from fresh water resources.  HB 1890, however, would count as eligible all electricity from an existing generation facility powered by a fresh water renewable resource that commenced operation before March 31, 1999.  In other words, fresh water energy resources that have been operating since before March 31, 1999 -- and are unchanged and unimproved since that time -- would count toward the RPS. 

For more information on this bill including its full text, see the Washington State Legislature website.

Washington HB 1890 is sponsored by Rep. Brad Klippert (R-8th Dist.), Rep. Jan Angel (R-26th Dist.), Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-39th Dist.), Rep. Shelley Short (R-7th Dist.), Rep. Larry Haler (R-8th Dist.), Rep. Barbara Bailey (R-10th Dist.), and Rep. Jim McCune (R-2nd Dist.).  It was introduced and referred to the Environment Committee on February 8, 2011. 

Another bill that would essentially wipe out the Washington State RPS altogether was introduced earlier this session.  The blog post on that bill, SB 5563, is available here.

Washington Senate Bill has potential for eliminating state renewable energy requirements

Currently, electric utilities in Washington that serve more than 25,000 customers are required to obtain the following percentages of their electricity from new renewable resources:

  • At least 3% by January 1, 2012
  • At least 9% by January 1, 2015
  • At least 15% by January 1, 2020

This has been the case since the passage of the Washington Energy Independence Act in 2006. The current Legislature has introduced a bill which, if passed, would essentially wipe out these RPS requirements. SB 5563 -- which was introduced in the Washington State Legislature on January 31, 2011 -- plainly states its intention of “temporarily suspending provisions of the energy independence act during periods of economic downturn.” If SB 5563 passes, qualifying utilities would be deemed to have met the 2012 target and, from 2015, the target for any year in which the the Washington unemployment rate goes above six percent. Furthermore, utilities would be deemed to have met their renewable target not only for that year but for four subsequent years, regardless of the unemployment rate during the look back period.

A historical look at Washington’s unemployment rate shows that a look back period for four years would be able to eliminate the RPS standards in even the most prosperous economic times. For example, Washington state’s unemployment rate[1] for the past 20 years was below 6% during only five calendar years (1998, 1999, 2000, 2006, 2007) and never for more than three consecutive years. That means if SB 5563 had been in effect for the past two decades -- decades that included some of the most robust economic times this generation has known -- at no time would utilities have been required to meet the renewable energy requirements of the EIA. Given where the U.S. economy currently stands, it’s highly unlikely SB 5563 would play out any differently for the next 20 years, much less between now and 2020.

For more information on this bill including its full text, see the Washington State Legislature website.

Washington SB 5563 is sponsored by Sen. Jerome Delvin (R-8th Dist.), Sen. Mark Schoesler (R-9th Dist.), Sen. Mike Hewitt (R-16th Dist.), Sen. Jim Honeyford (R-15th Dist.), and Sen. Tim Sheldon (D-35th Dist.) and was referred to the Environment, Water & Energy Committee on January 31, 2011.

[1]  Not seasonally adjusted.

Incentives for Natural Gas Vehicles Stalled by Recent Elections

The Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 (S. 3815) was introduced by Senator Harry Reid on September 22, 2010 and placed on the Congressional calendar.  The Bill, however, has questionable chances of passing.  This is likely due in part to the politics of a lame duck session and the recent elections.  And at least some commentators believe that even if the bill did come up for a vote, it would fail by a wide margin.

Content of the Proposed Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act of 2010

The Promoting Natural Gas and Electric Vehicles Act of 2010 (S. 3815) is designed to reduce oil consumption and improve energy security by amending the Internal Revenue Code to provide incentives related to natural gas and plug-in electric vehicles.  With respect to natural gas vehicles (NGV), the Bill provides rebates to qualified owners of vehicles that are powered completely or in part by natural gas, and provides grants and loans for the development of infrastructure and manufacturing related to NGVs.  The Bill would allocate at least $6.3B in incentives and includes a provision to increase the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund financing rate from 9 to 21 cents per barrel.

Rebates for Vehicles

The Bill states that the Secretary shall establish a rebate program for qualified owners who convert or repower a conventionally fueled vehicle to operate in part or completely on natural gas, although details of the rebate program are not provided in the Bill.  The Bill also provides for rebates of $8,000 to $64,000 for NGV’s, based on vehicle weight ranging from under 8,500 pounds to over $26,000.  There are lower incentives for vehicles that are powered only partially by natural gas.

Other Benefits in the Bill

The Bill also provides grants to encourage the development of infrastructure and manufacturing, including grants up to $50,000 for qualified refuelers for the installation of natural gas refueling properties placed in service between 2011 and 2015.  Another aspect is a direct loan program that could be used to pay up to 80 percent of the cost of reequipping, expanding, or establishing a facility in the United States that will be used for the purpose of producing any new qualifed alternative fuel vehicles or any eligible component.

For more information, see the full text of the Bill.

Older Entries