On November 3, 2015, U.S. President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Memorandum (Memorandum) that potentially opens the door to agency attempts to expand mitigation obligations beyond what is required under law while also having the potential to have significant and positive net benefits for the development of energy projects. The Memorandum encourages advance (i.e., pre-project) restoration measures, including mitigation banking, by both public and private entities.  It directs federal agencies to adopt a clear and consistent approach, such as guidance and regulations, to further this goal. Agencies affected include the United States Forest Service (USFS), the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the Department of Interior (DOI) — projects involving review by these agencies, including energy and other types of proposed development, may be affected. These agencies will be expected to draft handbooks, guidelines, policies and regulations to implement advance mitigation measures.
Intense climate negotiations in Paris have now concluded for the 21st “conference of the parties” (or COP-21) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. Until quite late in the process, many big-picture questions remained unresolved, including the enforceability of emissions limitations plans under the agreement, compensation for loss, and the target limit for global temperature rise. The resolution of these questions will be summarized below, with initial commentary on the results of the negations and questions going forward.
Leading up to and during the negotiations, media reports reflected optimism among global stakeholders seeking limits to greenhouse gas emissions, and expectations for an historic deal ran high. This ambitious agenda redoubled during the talks themselves, when low-lying island nations and scientists sought to tighten temperature increase targets from 2 degrees Celsius to 1.5 degrees Celsius. As discussed below, while the agreement reflects a new level of commitment to cutting carbon, the high expectations were not met entirely in the final accord.
A series of public meetings are being held across Washington State to provide an update on the Washington State Legislature’s Clean Energy Fund II. The Clean Energy Fund provides grants to projects that support development, demonstration and deployment of clean energy technologies and is administered by the Department of Commerce’s State Energy Office. Personnel from the Department of Commerce will be at each meeting to provide information and answer questions.
The next meeting is being held in Spokane, Washington at Avista Utilities. The meeting details are:
- When: Thursday, December 17, 2015
- Where: Avista Utilities
1411 E. Mission Avenue
Spokane, WA 99202
If you are interested in attending the meeting on December 17 in Spokane, you can register here. We will keep you updated on future scheduled meetings and updates on the Clean Energy Fund II. More information on the Clean Energy Fund II can be found here.
Law Seminars International will present a discussion on renewable power purchase agreements (PPAs) next Thursday, December 10 from 12:00-1:30 p.m. PST featuring Bill Holmes of K&L Gates and other renewables industry professionals. The presentation will cover what makes a renewable PPA different from other contracts, how renewable PPAs address the complex regulatory system governing electric power, common risk sharing terms in renewable PPAs, key financial terms, and the latest ideas for “synthetic” PPAs and other new approaches allowing large companies to participate directly in the market for renewable power.
Register directly on the Law Seminars International Website.
In a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking issued on November 19, 2015, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “Commission”) proposed to eliminate the exemption currently available to wind generators from the requirement to provide reactive power. The proposed rule would require that all newly interconnecting synchronous and non-synchronous generators, including wind generators, provide reactive power pursuant to the terms of their interconnection agreements. Additionally, any existing wind generators will be required to provide reactive power if they propose facility upgrades requiring a new interconnection request. Comments on the NOPR are due by the end of January 2016.
K&L Gates attorneys Ankur K. Tohan, Daniel C. Kelly-Stallings, and Alyssa A. Moir recently penned an article for the Environmental and Land Use Law Section of the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) analyzing greenhouse gas regulation in Washington. Their article, “Greenhouse Gas Regulation in Washington: What the Clean Power Plan and Washington Clean Air Rule Mean for the State,” is available from the WSBA website.
EPA published the Clean Power Plan (“CPP”) regulations in the Federal Register late last month. The CPP is the landmark climate change rule championed by the Obama Administration that requires reductions in greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants nationwide. Almost immediately, opponents lodged petitions seeking review of the rule, with some petitioners also seeking a stay of the rule.
The latest edition of the K&L Gates Environmental Policy Quarterly focuses on (1) EPA’s Carbon Pollution Standards and Clean Power Plan, (2) congressional efforts to streamline environmental reviews of infrastructure projects, and (3) EPA’s draft Assessment on the Potential Impact of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources. We are delighted to include contributions by a number of K&L Gates lawyers who focus on these matters on a daily basis.
Law360 recently published an expert analysis piece from Teresa Hill and Bill Holmes on corporate energy sourcing, the renewable energy trend in which in which companies across all industries are taking a greater role in controlling the characteristics and cost of their energy supply. Read “Corporate Energy Sourcing: A New Engine for Renewables” here.
Bill Holmes will speak on a panel at the upcoming Renewable Energy Markets (REM) 2015 conference in Washington, D.C. on October 19, 2015. Mr. Holmes’ panel presentation, “Direct Purchasing and PPAs 101” will address the benefits and challenges of direct energy purchases as well as provide suggestions on composing internal teams, condensing transaction time, and ensuring buy-in for long-term agreements.
Please visit the REM 2015 website for more information on the conference.