Janet Jacobs

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Janet Jacobs practices in the Corporate, Securities and Finance practice group and the Renewable Energy practice group. Janet represents clients in corporate governance matters, mergers and acquisitions, corporate, securities and financing transactions, with an emphasis on the development, structuring, financing and acquisition of biofuels, solar and wind projects. She also advises her clients on their business operations and significant corporate transactions.


Articles By This Author

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

 

Report on CPUC Workstop on Electric Energy Storage Workshop

On Tuesday, June 28, 2011, the CPUC held 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. A large number of interested stakeholders attended including Stoel Rives’ Seth Hilton and myself. There were presentations from the UC Berkeley/CEC team, CAISO, SCE and CAISO, as well as informal presentations from participants. (Click on this link for copies of these presentations and the proposal or go to: http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/PUC/energy/electric/storage.htm.) The discussion that followed each presentation was lively and well-informed.

The theme of the workshop was to identify and address the barriers to the inclusion of Electric Energy Storage (EES) and to brainstorm action that the CPUC could take to ameliorate those barriers, both internally and by its participation in other forums. A ruling seeking additional comments from the workshop participants will be issued in the next week or so – we will keep you posted.

The overarching takeaways from the workshop were:

  • EES encompasses many different technologies and many potential applications for generation, transmission, distribution and customer-side.
  • There needs to be a valuation methodology endorsed by all stakeholders that encapsulates all the benefits that EES can provide.
  • A meaningful cost/ benefit analysis of any EES technology cannot be conducted independent of its application. CPUC could address some of these challenges itself, particularly in the following areas:
    • Contract evaluation
    • Rate design
    • Avoidance of over-generation and subsequent curtailment
    • Load, resource adequacy and capacity
  • CPUC could also participate in other forums:
    • CAISO’s transmission analysis and planning process
    • FERC through a Notice of Intent

A pall was cast over the proceedings by the news that Michael Colvin (whose enthusiasm for EES has been a key component in maintaining the momentum of the R10-12-007 proceeding) is leaving his current post to take up a staff position with Commissioner Mark Ferron and California does not currently have the budgetary wherewithal to backfill Mike’s position.

DOE Awards $7.5 Million for Nex- Gen Wind Turbines

 

Yesterday U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced that six projects have been selected to receive nearly $7.5 million over two years to advance next-generation designs for wind turbine drivetrains.  Drivetrains, which include a turbine's gearbox and generator, are at the heart of the turbine and are responsible for producing electricity from the rotation of the blades. The selected projects selected will also help promote and accelerate the deployment of offshore wind turbines.

Some of the projects are early stage R&D projects which will focus on reliability or may redesign drivetrains to eliminate certain components altogether. Other projects will focus on  increasing the amount of energy produced by turbines, or designs that minimize the use of rare earth materials.

The awards will be issued through DOE's Wind and Water Power Program, which funds research, testing, development and deployment of innovative wind energy technologies.

Each project listed in the table below will receive up to $700,000 to conduct technology cost and readiness assessments during the 6-month Phase I. Some of the projects will be selected for Phase II and each Phase II project could receive up to an additional $2 million over 18 months.

 

Project

Town, State

Technology

1.                   

Advanced Magnet Lab

Palm Bay, Florida

A superconducting direct-drive generator for large wind turbines

2.                   

Boulder Wind Power

Boulder, Colorado

Magnet-based direct-drive generator to validate performance and reliability of large utility-scale turbine. Has offshore applications

3.                   

Clipper Windpower

Carpinteria, California

Drivetrain design that enables increased serviceability over conventional gearboxes

4.                   

Dehlsen Associates

Santa Barbara, California

Drivetrain configuration that eliminates gearboxes, power electronics, transformers, and rare earth materials

5.                   

GE Global Research

Niskayuna, New York

10 MW direct-drive generator using low-temperature superconductivity technology that reduces the risk of fluid leakage.

6.                   

NREL

Golden, Colorado

Hybrid design that uses a single-stage gearbox and non-permanent magnet generator that reduces the need for rare earth materials

DOE awards $11M for Geothermal

The Department of Energy has selected eight projects to receive up to $11.3 million for the research and development of pioneering novel geothermal production technologies. The  projects (listed below) will conduct Phase 1 feasibility studies, which will include technical and economic modeling and component design. The Department of Energy will choose the projects that will proceed to Phase II – proving out the designs in a real-world environment.

 

Name

City, State

Amount

$

Technology

1.                   

GeoTek Energy, LLC

Midland, Texas

up to 2.85 million

Gravity-driven downhole pump

2.                   

Gtherm, Inc.

Westport, Connecticut

up to $200,000

Single well geothermal system

3.                   

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Berkeley, California

up to $4.99 million

Heat from superheated pressurized carbon dioxide in deep geothermal formations

4.                   

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Livermore, California

up to $874,000

Integrated energy production with carbon capture and storage

5.                   

Louisiana State University

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

up to $997,000

Circulation of reservoir fluids to increase heat extraction

6.                   

Physical Optics Corporation

Torrance, California

up to $200,000

Wellbore condenser converting hot vapor into cooler liquids

7.                   

Terralog Technologies USA, Inc.

Monrovia, California

up to $541,000

Optimization of vertical and horizontal well systems

8.                   

University of Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

up to $671,000

Development of deep sedimentary and crystalline reservoirs

Bar on Military Purchases of Chinese Solar Panels

In a blow to China’s position as the world’s dominant producer of solar panels, the new military authorization law  prevents the Defense Department from buying Chinese-made solar panels, but allows it to buy solar panels from any country that has signed the W.T.O.’s side agreement on government procurement.

The W.T.O. Government Procurement Agreement, which requires free trade in government purchases, has been signed by virtually all industrialized countries. China agreed to sign it on joining the W.T.O. in November 2001, but still has not done so, possibly because of internal pressure that strongly favors steering lucrative government contracts to domestic companies.

Chinese leaders have strongly criticized provisions like the “Buy America” provision in the 2009 economic stimulus legislation, despite having similar restrictions on the use of its own stimulus funds.

 

China accounted for at least half the world’s production of solar panels in 2010 and its market share is rising. While the United States and Europe have focused on subsidizing solar panel purchasers, China has focused on subsidizing its solar panel manufacturers. It then exports virtually all of its panels to the United States and Europe, taking advantage of American and European consumer subsidies.  

 

Industry experts predict that the new legislation will boost the American solar panel market, partly by requiring future military contracts to specify American-made panels and partly by encouraging Chinese solar panel manufacturers to establish factories in the United States, with the concomitant higher labor and overhead costs.

DOE to Fund up to $50 Million for Innovative, Cost-Competitive Solar Energy

Today, the Department of Energy issued a Notice of Intent regarding funding of up to $50 million to test and demonstrate innovative technologies that will lead to cost-competitive solar energy technologies. The Nevada National Security Site will be the test site for cutting-edge solar technologies which can be deployed in the Southwest areas of the United States where there is an abundance of solar energy.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement (Reference Number DE-FOA-0000233) won’t be issued until early next year but you can look at the Notice of Intent by going to https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/ and plugging in the Reference Number. Stay tuned for  more information via this blog or in a client alert.

$184 Million for Advanced Vehicle Research and Development

Today, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced that it is accepting applications for up to $184 million over three to five years to accelerate the development and deployment of new efficient vehicle technologies that will reduce U.S. dependence on foreign oil, save drivers money, and limit carbon pollution. Projects will span the broad spectrum of technology approaches, including advanced materials, combustion research, hybrid electric systems, fleet efficiency, and fuels technology.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement (Reference Number: DE-FOA-0000239) addresses the development of key technologies required to achieve large scale adoption of competitive, cost-effficient, advanced vehicles such as plug-in electric hybrids (PHEVs) and electric vehicles (EVs).

The FOA released today focuses on several approaches to improving vehicle efficiency, including:

  • Advanced fuels and lubricants
  • Use of lighter weight materials
  • Advanced cells and design technology for electric drive batteries.
  • Advanced power electronics and electric motor technology
  • Efficient and emission-reducing engine technology.

The FOA can be found by entering the FOA reference number on the FedConnect Web site: https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/PublicPages/PublicSearch/Public_Opportunities.aspx

 

Applications for the solicitation are due February 28, 2011. Applications must be submitted through Grants.gov to be considered for awards. The DOE expects to announce the awards by summer 2011

 

DOE Announces $30 Million for Next Generation Biofuels Research

DOE announced on December 14, 2010 that funds will be made available for small-scale process integration projects that support the development of advanced biofuels. The biofuels could replace gasoline or diesel without requiring special upgrades or changes to the vehicle or fueling infrastructure. The funding opportunity announcement, reference number DE-FOA-0000337 (the “FOA”) will provide up to $30 million over the next 3 to 4 years to support up to 5 projects.

Successful proposals will focus on optimizing and integrating processes that convert biomass into biofuels and bioproducts that can be used to support hydrocarbon fuels and chemicals. These process improvements could include, for example:

 

  • Pretreatment methods that alter the biomass to improve the yield of sugars in subsequent process steps;
  • More cost-efficient enzymes that produce sugars;
  • Fermentation organisms and catalysts that convert the sugars into fuel and chemical intermediates.

Successful applicants will demonstrate the economics and efficiency of their proposed process.

 

This FOA is largely focused on agricultural residues but other feedstock sources can be proposed if the applicant can show compelling evidence that the feedstock will be sustainably available by 2015. However, certain feedstocks and processes are excluded from the scope of this FOA:

  • Proposals that use pure sugar feeds and ‘model’ hydrolysates are not eligible for funding under this FOA
  • Proposals that include thermochemical processes (example: fermentation of syngas from a gasification process).
  •  Early- and late-stage processes  (i.e. prior to pretreatment and saccharification or after conversion to final product)  will not be eligible for funding.
  •  If a catalytic conversion process is proposed, the hydrogenation process may not be included in the proposed process improvements to be funded under this FOA.

A complete description of the FOA solicitation, eligibility requirements, and application instructions can be found at https://www.fedconnect.net/FedConnect/PublicPages/PublicSearch/Public_Opportunities.aspx  

 

Applications must be submitted through Grants.gov by no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on February 7, 2011.  Applicants are requested (but not required) to submit a letter of intent by January 17, 2011.

 

First Federally Coordinated Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative

 

On Tuesday, December 7, 2010, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, together with several other  government agencies, announced a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Export Initiative.

 

The Initiative brings together the Trade Promotion Coordinating Committee Working Group on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency,  the Export-Import Bank of the United States, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation,  the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, and the Office of the United States Trade Representative.  This coordinated effort is the first of its kind.

 

The goal is to promote and increase renewable energy and energy efficiency exports as part of a cohesive program during the next five years.  The U.S. Government plans to offer new financing products for exporters and facilitate market access, among other things.

 

See http://export.gov/reee for the  report released on Tuesday by the Commerce Department.

DOE Offers First Loan Guarantee for Transmission Project

DOE announced on October 19 its offer of a conditional commitment for a $350 million loan guarantee to develop the One Nevada Transmission Line (ON Line). ON Line consists of a new 500-kilovolt transmission line that will run 235 miles from Ely, Nevada to just north of Las Vegas. The project will carry approximately 600 megawatts (MW) of electricity, including renewable energy resources in northern Nevada. It will also integrate existing transmission systems in northern and southern Nevada, improving grid reliability and efficiency, and reducing power costs. This is the first transmission line project to be offered such a commitment by DOE's Loan Programs Office.

The ON Line project will be the first phase of the Southwest Intertie Project which, when fully completed, will carry approximately 2,000 MW of electricity and will enable wind and solar resources in Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada to power the Southwest and California markets. The ON Line project is expected to contract about 85% of its parts and labor from U.S.-based companies, and it will create approximately 400 construction jobs.  

 

Older Entries

October 13, 2010 — New Defender of the PACE Program

October 8, 2010 — Summary of Federal Biofuels Incentives

October 6, 2010 — United States and Iceland Collaborate to Develop and Deploy Clean Geothermal Energy

August 23, 2010 — DOE:$15 million for Innovative Geothermal Recovery Methods

July 7, 2010 — SHOW ME THE MONEY: DOE Offers $1.85 Billion in Solar Loan Guarantees

June 30, 2010 — DOE Issues RFI on Wind Energy Workforce Development Roadmap

June 30, 2010 — DOE Awards $24 Million for Algal Biofuels Research

June 30, 2010 — DOI/DOE MOU for Offshore Renewable Energy Projects

June 2, 2010 — $6 Million for Short Term Wind Energy Forecasting

May 28, 2010 — DOE: up to $11 Million for Biofuels Technology Development

May 25, 2010 — DOE to Invest $6 Million in Midsize Wind Turbine Technology Development

May 24, 2010 — DOE: $25 M for Solid State Lighting

May 13, 2010 — FOA: $20 Million for Innovative Geothermal Technologies

May 5, 2010 — May 11 Public Hearing Regarding Changes to Washington's Renewable Energy System Cost Recovery Program

May 5, 2010 — New REAP grants; EPA and USDA Promote Renewable Energy Generation from Livestock

April 28, 2010 — CPUC Approves 500 MW PG&E Program

April 7, 2010 — DOT, EPA Boost Fuel Economy, Set GHG Emission Limits for Light Vehicles

March 4, 2010 — SHOW ME THE MONEY: NEW ARPA-E FUNDS

February 24, 2010 — SHOW ME THE MONEY: $1.37 BILLION LOAN GUARANTEE FOR CSP

January 20, 2010 — Show Me the Money: $12 million for Early Stage Solar Technologies

January 15, 2010 — Show Me the Money (and the Light): $37 Million for Solid State Lighting

January 13, 2010 — ARRA SGIG Grants Taxable?

January 8, 2010 — Show Me The Money: $2.3 Billion for Clean-Tech Manufacturing Jobs

January 6, 2010 — Show Me the Money: $47 Million for Efficiency in IT & Communications

December 3, 2009 — EPA: Possible Increase in "Blend Wall"

November 25, 2009 — DOE Awards $620 Million for Smart Grid and Energy Storage Projects

November 11, 2009 — California Solar Initiative issues Second Grant Solicitation

October 27, 2009 — Show Me the Money: DOE To Announce 100 Smart Grid Awards Today

October 27, 2009 — DOE and NREL Announce Open PV Mapping Project

October 7, 2009 — EPA Aims to Limit Greenhouse Gas Regulations to Large Facilities

October 7, 2009 — Obama Administration Invests $300 Million in a Green Federal Fleet

October 7, 2009 — US and China Co-Host First Electric Vehicle Forum

September 23, 2009 — Show Me the Money: $100 million for Smart Grid Workforce Training

September 14, 2009 — NEW: the Central Washington Resource Energy Collaborative

September 14, 2009 — Show Me the Money: $454 Million in Energy Efficiency Retrofits

August 14, 2009 — SHOW ME THE MONEY II AVAILABLE NOW

August 6, 2009 — Show Me the Money: $2.4 Billion for NexGen Batteries and Electric Vehicles

July 21, 2009 — Show Me the Money: $47 Million for Smart Grid Projects

July 16, 2009 — SHOW ME THE MONEY:Funding of $85 million for Algal and Advanced Biofuels

July 15, 2009 — $52.5 Million for Concentrating Solar Power Research and Development

July 14, 2009 — Show Me the Money:$300 Million Rebate for Purchases of Energy Efficient Appliances

July 10, 2009 — USDA Small Wind Grants Cover 25% of Costs

July 8, 2009 — United States Joins the International Renewable Energy Agency

July 6, 2009 — Prosperity Partnership Issues a Guide to Recovery Funds

July 6, 2009 — Show Me the Money: $153 Million for Seven States

July 1, 2009 — Interior Department Expedites Solar Energy Development in the West

June 29, 2009 — SHOW ME THE MONEY: $4.15 Billion Available for Smart Grid Projects

June 26, 2009 — U.S. Department of Labor Announces US $500M For Green Job Training

June 25, 2009 — NEW HOPE FOR SHUTTERED MINN. BIODIESEL PLANT

June 24, 2009 — Show Me the Money: $204 Million for State Energy Programs in 10 States

June 23, 2009 — Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program Update

June 22, 2009 — Cowlitz and Klickitat PUDs Share DOE Public Power Wind Pioneer Award

June 22, 2009 — Stanford Sees Results in Geothermal Reservoir Characterization

May 30, 2009 — $37 mn US for Clean Energy in New Mexico

May 20, 2009 — DSIRE launches new solar website

May 1, 2009 — "Show Me The Money"

April 22, 2009 — Clean Energy Projects To Become Eligible for Washington State's Energy Freedom Program