The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC or Commission) is weighing party comments on implementation of Assembly Bill (AB) 2143. Enacted last year, AB 2143 will take effect on January 1, 2024. This bill extends existing prevailing wage requirements for public works to the construction of any renewable electrical generation facility, and any associated battery storage
On September 30, 2022 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (“Service”) published notice in the Federal Register of a proposed rule amending its regulations authorizing permits for eagle incidental take and eagle nest take. Although the proposed rule includes other proposed revisions, the most notable change is the Service’s proposal to create general permits for certain projects and activities. Under these general permits, applicants would register with the Service, pay the required fees, and certify compliance with general permit conditions. By making general permits available to certain activities and projects, the Service aims to remove administrative barriers, reduce costs, and make the process less confusing for applicants. For projects or activities that do not qualify for a general permit, individual or specific permits will remain available.
In the proposed rule, the Service proposes general permits for four types of qualifying projects or activities: wind energy generation projects, power line infrastructure, disturbance of breeding bald eagles, and bald eagle nest take. We discuss each proposed general permit in turn below.
Eagle Incidental Take Permit for Qualifying Wind Energy Projects. To encourage broader participation in the eagle permitting program by wind energy developers and operators, the Service is proposing a five-year general permit for certain qualifying wind energy projects. Eligibility is determined based on the relative eagle abundance in the project area. To be eligible, all turbines associated with the project must be located in an area with seasonal relative eagle abundance (based on eBird data) below the threshold amounts across five eagle “seasons.” The project must also be greater than 660 feet from a bald eagle nest and two miles from a golden nest to qualify under the general permit.
For existing wind energy projects, the proposed rules would allow project operators to request coverage under the wind energy general permit even when a portion of the project is within an area that does not fall below the applicable relative abundance thresholds. The Service anticipates “issuing a letter of authorization for most existing projects where only a small percentage of existing turbines do not qualify under the relative abundance thresholds or when an existing project has conducted and provides monitoring data demonstrating fatality rates consistent with those expected for general turbines.”
The proposed wind energy general permit requires permittees to monitor eagle take but allows project proponents to use onsite employees rather than relying on third-party monitors. If a project is covered by a general permit and has four eagle fatalities during the permit term, the project will be required to implement adaptive management measures and seek an individual permit at the expiration of the general permit.
The proposed application fee for the wind energy general permit is $500, and the proposed administrative fee is $525 per turbine per year or $2,625 per turbine for a five-year permit. Under the current proposal, wind energy general permits would be valid for five years.
Eagle Incidental Take Permit for Power Lines. The Service is also proposing a general permit option for power line infrastructure. To qualify for coverage under the power line general permit, the applicant must, in addition to meeting other general requirements: (1) ensure that new construction is electrocution-safe for bald and golden eagles; (2) implement a reactive retrofit strategy following all eagle electrocutions; (3) implement a proactive retrofit strategy to retrofit a portion of existing infrastructure during each general permit term; (4) implement an eagle collision response strategy; (5) incorporate information on eagles into project siting and design; and (6) implement an eagle shooting response strategy (aimed at addressing illegal shooting of eagles on power lines). The proposed application fee for the power line general permit is $500 and the proposed administration fee is $5,000 for each state for which the power-line entity is seeking authorization. Like the wind energy general permits, under the current proposal, power line general permits would be valid for five years.
Continue Reading U.S. Fish and Wildlife Proposes Revisions to Eagle Permit Rules, Including General Permits for Qualifying Wind Energy Projects, Power Lines, and Disturbance and Nest Take
On June 30, 2022, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 205 (“AB 205”), which, among various other things, expands the siting jurisdiction of the California Energy Commission (“CEC”) to include non-thermal generating facilities, such as solar and wind projects, with a capacity of 50 megawatts (MW) or more. The CEC’s siting jurisdiction was previously…
On May 18, 2022, the California Energy Commission met to discuss its draft report to evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind to achieve reliability, ratepayer, employment, and decarbonization benefits and establish megawatt offshore wind planning goals for 2030 and 2045. The report is the first of three interim work products that California AB 525 directs CEC to prepare. By the end of this year, the CEC must complete and submit a preliminary assessment of economic benefits as they relate to seaport investments and workforce development needs, and complete and submit a permitting roadmap. The ultimate requirement of AB 525 is to require, by June 30, 2023, the CEC, in coordination with federal, state, and local agencies and a wide variety of stakeholders, to develop a strategic plan for offshore wind energy developments installed off the California coast in federal waters and submit it to the California Natural Resources Agency and the Legislature.…
In its first move since hitting “pause” on the California Public Utilities Commission’s (Commission) consideration of a controversial December 2021 proposed decision (Proposed Decision or PD) that would have overhauled the existing net energy metering (NEM) tariff for California’s solar customers, the presiding administrative law judge (ALJ) issued a ruling on May 9 to reopen the record and invite party comments on a limited scope of issues.
The Commission adopted California’s existing solar tariff, known as NEM 2.0, on January 28, 2016 in Decision (D.) 16-01-044. Customers opting into this tariff pay a one-time interconnection fee (less than $150 for systems under 1 MW and $800 for systems over 1 MW). Customers taking service on the NEM tariff are automatically opted into a time-of-use rate plan and are subject to select non-bypassable charges (NBCs) that are used to fund general customer programs such as contributions to the wildfire fund, nuclear decommissioning, and the public purpose program, among others. NEM customers receive a bill credit for any excess generation produced by their system and exported to the electric grid, which credits may be used to offset customer energy costs. Under NEM 2.0, any excess generation credits are applied to the customer’s bill at the same retail rate (including generation, distribution and transmission charges) the customer would have paid for the energy consumption.
Continue Reading Commission Ruling Reopens the NEM 3.0 Record to Invite Comment on and Consider Limited Issues
Today, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) Director Amanda Lefton announced a Call for Information and Nominations (Call) to assess commercial interest in potential offshore wind leasing within two areas off the Oregon coast. Together, the two areas total 1,158,400 million acres located at least 12 miles offshore Coos Bay and Brookings, respectively. Once the…
On Friday February 25, the Biden administration continued its push to achieve 30 GW of offshore wind by 2030 when the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) announced three Call Areas for the development of floating offshore wind in federal waters off the Oregon coast. The Call Areas, located 13.8 miles off the coast of…
On January 11, 2022, the California Energy Commission (CEC) issued an update to its Summer 2022 Stack Analysis. Previously, on September 8, 2021, the CEC issued a revised Summer 2022 Stack Analysis that showed potential energy shortfalls ranging from 200 MW to 4,350 MW during the months of July through September 2022, in the evening…
The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) is kicking off the stakeholder engagement part of its Floating Offshore Wind Study on January 20 at 9 a.m. As directed by HB 3375, ODOE is preparing a report on the challenges and benefits of integrating up to 3 gigawatts (GW) of floating offshore energy into Oregon’s grid by 2030, and it will submit that report to the legislature in September. A summary from the first part of the study, a literature review, should be released soon. Following the kickoff meeting, ODOE anticipates two more virtual meetings, as well as an opportunity to submit comments.
Continue Reading Oregon Department of Energy Seeks Stakeholder Input on Floating Offshore Wind Development
On November 18, 2021, FERC issued a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking comments on reactive power capability compensation and market design. (Link to NOI here). Reactive power is a critical component of the bulk electric system. Almost all bulk electric power is generated, transported, and consumed in AC networks. These AC systems consume both real and reactive power. Reactive power supports the voltages necessary for system reliability to allow the supply of real power from generation to load. All balancing authorities must procure enough sources of reactive power to safely manage the grid and generator interconnection agreements contain provisions requiring generators to operate within certain reactive power limits. Reactive power is an ancillary service and costs are recovered separately from the cost of standard transmission service.
Continue Reading Reactive Power Compensation for Renewable Generators – On the Chopping Block?