In early January, the Minnesota Department of Commerce shared new details about the state’s Low and Moderate-income Accessible Community Solar Garden program (the “Program”) application process and requirements. Among other features, the Program emphasizes subscribing low- and moderate-income (“LMI”) households and public interest organizations and establishes new consumer protection requirements. Applications for the Program will be submitted and reviewed in batches – starting February 1, 2024 – and new caps on project size and Program size will apply.Continue Reading Minnesota Community Solar Garden Updates – New Program To Begin Accepting Applications

On November 16, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) voted to adopt a decision resolving the remaining issues in the Net Energy Metering (NEM) proceeding.  The decision, issued on November 22 as D.23-11-068, applies the net billing tariff concept adopted in D.22-12-56 to virtual net metering customers (VNEM) and aggregated NEM customers (NEMA), which

On June 23, 2023, the Oregon Legislature passed House Bill (HB) 3179, which changes the definition of energy facilities subject to mandatory Oregon Energy Facility Siting Council (EFSC) jurisdiction.  Signed by Oregon’s Governor on July 18, 2023, HB 3179 will go into effect January 1, 2024.  HB 3179 will provide more flexibility for certain

On October 13, 2023, the United States Department of Energy (“DOE”) announced seven proposals from around the country selected to enter negotiations to receive funding under the DOE’s Regional Clean Hydrogen Hubs (“H2Hubs”) program. Projects located in California, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, Oregon, Montana, Texas, West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and New Jersey are included in the seven hydrogen hub proposals selected to enter negotiations to receive H2Hubs funding. In total, the seven projects covering these states are eligible to receive a share of up to $7 billion in federal cost-share funding.

H2Hubs is a federal program established under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to provide funding to create regional networks of hydrogen producers, consumers, and local infrastructure to accelerate the use, delivery, and storage of hydrogen across the United States. The program allocates a total of $8 billion in funding to DOE from 2022 to 2026 to create these regional hydrogen networks. The H2Hubs program is designed to support the production of clean hydrogen from a variety of feedstocks including fossil fuels, renewable energy, and nuclear energy. The program similarly provides support for a variety of end uses such as clean hydrogen production for use in the electric power generation sector, industrial sector, residential and commercial heating sector, and transportation sector.Continue Reading DOE Announces 7 Hydrogen Hubs Eligible for $7 Billion in Funding

At the July 27, 2023, Open Meeting, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issued long-awaited Order No. 2023, the Final Rule on Improvements to Generator Interconnection Procedures and Agreements in Docket No. RM22-14-000.  The rulemaking arose from the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking: Building for the Future Through Electric Regional Transmission Planning and Cost

During its May 18 voting meeting, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) voted to open a new rulemaking proceeding that will consider improvements to its permitting procedures for electric infrastructure projects that fall under its jurisdiction.  The Commission’s action is driven by increased legislative and policy interest in reducing barriers to energy infrastructure development to

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

Yesterday, February 14, 2023, the D.C. Circuit issued an order affirming FERC’s order in Broadview Solar, LLC, 174 FERC 61,199 (2021) and its “send-out” approach to determining the net power production capacity of a Qualifying Facility (“QF”).  As a brief recap of the history of Broadview, Broadview filed an application for QF certification

On October 14, 2022, the assigned Commissioner (Rechtschaffen) issued a proposed decision (PD) on Transportation Electrification Policy and Investment in the pending rulemaking (R.) 18-12-006 before the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission).  Commission approval of the PD would adopt a new Transportation Electrification Framework (TEF) to guide utility investments in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure and would authorize $1 billion in ratepayer funding for the first five years of the TE program, known as Funding Cycle 1 (FC1).  In recognition of the rapidly evolving EV landscape, the PD proposes to cap spending during first three years of FC1, which is a five-year funding cycle, at $600 million, and access to the remaining $400 million budget is held until the Commission issues a “Mid-Cycle Assessment” decision to determine whether modifications to or termination of the program budget is warranted.  Notably, the Commission would prohibit Fortune 1000 companies from receiving any FC1 rebates, regardless of whether they propose to operate in a disadvantaged community. Continue Reading Commission Issues Long-Awaited Proposed Decision in Transportation Electrification (TE) Proceeding, Setting a Framework for California TE Policy and Investment

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