Yesterday, President Obama announced that the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (“USDA”), Energy (“DOE”), and Navy (“USN”, and together with the USDA and DOE, the “Agencies”) will invest up to $510 million over the course of the next three years to support advanced drop-in aviation and marine biofuels to power military and commercial transportation. This is a follow up to President Obama’s Blueprint for a Secure Energy Future (the “Blueprint”). In the Blueprint, the President expressed a desire to begin construction on at least four commercial-scale cellulosic or advanced bio-refineries over the next two years and challenged the Agencies to work together to spur the development of competitively priced substitutes for diesel and jet fuel.
The USDA, DOE and USN responded to the Blueprint by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (the “MOU”). The MOU outlines a plan for the Agencies to partner with the private sector to construct or retrofit several drop-in biofuel plants and refineries. The agencies have stated goals of limiting our nation’s dependence on foreign oil for national, providing tactical and strategic advantages for our military and creating economic opportunities in rural communities. We expect that the USDA will take the lead on addressing feedstocks, the DOE will take the lead on technology, and the USN will be the initial primary consumer of the advanced biofuels.
Each of the Agencies have committed to spending $170 million over the next three years and an Executive Steering Group (the “ESG”) will be established to coordinate the programs. It is expected that the ESG will work with the Agencies to develop and release solicitations to industry beginning in December 2011. The solicitations will be issued in accordance with the Defense Production Act (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq), the Commodity Credit Corporation Charter Act (15 U.S.C. 714 et seq), the Economy Act (31 U.S.C. 1535) and other appropriate authorities. Consequently, rights in inventions made as a consequence of, or in direct relation, of these solicitations will be administered in accordance with the applicable Agency’s governing laws and policies.
Unused ARRA Grant Funds Related to Electric Vehicles, Alternative Fuel Vehicles and Infrastructure Projects
Puget Sound Clean Cities Coalition has announced that it has roughly $400,000 in unused ARRA grant funds available for alternative fuel vehicle and infrastructure projects.
Examples of eligible vehicles include:
- Vehicles using alternative fuels recognized by the Energy Policy Act (complete list here: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/epact/about/epact_fuels.html);
- Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles;
- Electric Hybrid Vehicles (including certain Plug-in Hybrid Vehicles);
- Hydraulic Hybrid Vehicles;
- Neighborhood Electric Vehicles; and
- Certain Bio-Diesel Vehicles (if replacing gasoline powered vehicles).
Infrastructure projects must be related to the storage, distribution, dispensing of advanced fuels or electric vehicle supply equipment. Examples of eligible infrastructure projects include:
- New dispensing facilities, or additional equipment or upgrades to existing refueling sites;
- Facility upgrades or building modifications necessary to accommodate alternative fuels for fleet garages and other maintenance centers;
- Solar charging systems dedicated to providing on-site vehicle motive electrification
Funding requests must be between $100,000 and $400,000 with a minimum 10% non-federal match. Precise requirements of this grant are located at http://www.pugetsoundcleancities.org/documents/CleanCitiesFY09FOAModification007.pdf
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
- 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/
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:Continue Reading...
In an earlier blog post, Debra Frimerman reported that the U.S. Department of Energy was seeking applications for grants to help promote the construction and operation of pilot, demonstration, and commercial scale integrated biorefinery projects. Today, DOE announced the selection of 19 projects to receive up to $564 million in grant money authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.Continue Reading...
Next week, the Anaheim Convention center hosts Solar Power International, which bills itself as 'North America's largest business to business solar industry event.’ With over 900 exhibitors (Stoel Rives included) and 25,000 attendees expected, there is no doubt that this conference will be one of the largest and most heavily attended solar industry events in the world this year. The conference starts on Monday October 26 with pre-conference workshops and runs through Friday October 30. This year’s keynote speaker is Robert F. Kennedy Jr. the keynote address will take place on Wednesday morning.
If you are attending the conference, please stop by our exhibit booth (No. 1744), which is centrally located in the “PV Cells and Modules” section of the Exhibit floor. Stoel Rives attorneys Howard Susman, Morten Lund, Pat Boylston, Gregory Jenner, Stephen Hall, Kristen Castaños, David Quinby and Adam Walters will be in attendance.
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
Seeing how Stoel Rives is a Silver Sponsor of the Geothermal Energy Expo, held in Reno until October 7, 2009, it appears timely to talk about some geothermal energy news (click here for conference details, come by and see us at booth #520).
On October 2, 2009, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the Geothermal Research Initiative, a program to demonstrate low temperature geothermal electrical power generation systems using oilfield fluids produced at the Rocky Mountain Oilfield Testing Center. This program is moving forward as a collaboration between the Office of Fossil Energy and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Geothermal Technologies Program.
The Geothermal Research Initiative will demonstrate the versatility, reliability, and deployment opportunities which utilize the co-produced water from oilfield operations. These systems are designed to offset the electricity usage of the oilfield while also creating a second use for water which would otherwise be discarded. The DOE believes that the co-produced water can become a significant energy resource with an estimated 10 barrels of hot water being produced along with each barrel of oil in the United States.
The program will produce operational and performance data which will be freely available to the public. The goal of the program is to educate industry and the public about the potential for geothermal energy production from co-produced water and establish the best systems for particular climates.
In an earlier blog, my colleagues, Debra Frimerman and Janet Jacobs reported about the Rural Energy for America Program (“REAP”), in general and specifically in regards to small wind projects. REAP is a Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) program that provides grants and loan guarantees to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase renewable energy systems, make energy efficiency improvements and conduct feasibility studies for renewable energy systems. Eligible renewable energy systems include those that generate heat, electricity or fuels from wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, hydro power, and hydrogen based feed stocks.
The USDA has announced that it has awarded more than $13 million in REAP funds for 233 renewable energy projects in 38 states. Examples of the awards include a $1.8 million guaranteed loan and $500,000 grant for Milford Wind Energy, LLC; a $435,271 guaranteed loan and $435,271 grant for Unaka Forest Products, Inc.; and a $15,000 grant to Pacifica Marine, Inc.
Show me the Money: Washington State Issues Final Guidance for Competitive Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides $3.2 billion for energy efficiency and conservation block grants. Most of this money has been allocated directly to various local governments. Washington has an additional $6.4 million available through a competitive grant program.
Washington’s competitive grant program is administered through its Department of Commerce. Today, the Department of Commerce has announced the issuance of final guidelines for applications by smaller cities and counties for funds from the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program. Cities with populations lower than 35,000 and counties with populations lower than 200,000 are eligible to apply. Eligible cities and counties may choose to sub-grant their funds to other local governments, non-profits, or the private sector consistent with the guidelines.
The application guidelines, form, and frequently asked questions are available at www.commerce.wa.gov/recovery. The Department of Commerce will host a webinar on September 10, 2009, 9:00-11:00a.m., to review the final guidelines and answer questions. You can register for the webinar at https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/352879171. For more information contact Heather Ballash at firstname.lastname@example.org.