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K&L GATES BLOCKCHAIN ENERGIZER – VOLUME 6
2
K&L Gates Blockchain Energizer – Volume 5
3
Teresa Hill To Speak at AWEA WINDPOWER 2017
4
New Treasury Guidance Significantly Expands Field of Renewable Energy Projects That May Qualify for the PTC or ITC
5
Eagle Take Permit Program Revamped – Longer Permits and Clearer Mitigation Requirements
6
Treasury Department Issues New Guidance on PTC and ITC
7
Comprehensive Energy Policy Legislation: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 8 & S. 2012
8
FERC Issues Order Extending Deadlines for Energy Storage Comments
9
Oregon PUC to Hold Energy Storage Workshop on May 9, 2016
10
Update on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

K&L GATES BLOCKCHAIN ENERGIZER – VOLUME 6

By Molly Suda, Buck B. Endemann, and Ben Tejblum

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology and its potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries from finance and healthcare to real estate and supply chain management. Reports estimate that over $1.4 billion was invested in blockchain startups in 2016 alone, and many institutions and companies are forming partnerships to explore how blockchain ledgers and smart contracts can be deployed to manage and share data, create transactional efficiencies, and reduce costs.

While virtual currencies and blockchain technology in the financial services industry have been the subject of significant debate and discussion, blockchain applications that could transform the energy industry have received comparatively less attention. Every other week, the K&L Gates’ Blockchain Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology in the energy space.

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Blockchain-Based Energy Trading Pilot Project Looks to Expand
  • Over 20 Energy Trading Frims Will Participate in Peer-to-Peer Energy Trading Market

To view more information on these topics in Volume 6 of The Blockchain Energizer, click here.

K&L Gates Blockchain Energizer – Volume 5

By Molly Suda, Buck B. Endemann, and Ben Tejblum

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology and its potential to revolutionize a wide range of industries from finance and healthcare to real estate and supply chain management. Reports estimate that over $1.4 billion was invested in blockchain startups in 2016 alone, and many institutions and companies are forming partnerships to explore how blockchain ledgers and smart contracts can be deployed to manage and share data, create transactional efficiencies, and reduce costs.

While virtual currencies and blockchain technology in the financial services industry have been the subject of significant debate and discussion, blockchain applications that could transform the energy industry have received comparatively less attention. Every other week, the K&L Gates’ Blockchain Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology in the energy space.

IN THIS ISSUE

  • Canada’s TMX Natural Gas Exchange to Test Blockchain
  • Banks and Traders Begin to Consider the Implications of a Shift to Blockchain-Powered Networks
  • CFTC Launches FinTech Initiative

To view more information on theses topics in Volume 5 of The Blockchain Energizer, click here.

Teresa Hill To Speak at AWEA WINDPOWER 2017

Teresa Hill, Partner in K&L Gates’ Portland office, will be speaking at the AWEA WINDPOWER 2017 post-conference seminar The Evolving World of Corporate Wind Investment in Anaheim, California, on Thursday, May 25th at 1:30 p.m. PST at the Anaheim Convention Center. Teresa will speak on the panel Sealing the C&I Deal: Innovations, Challenges, and Opportunities in conjunction with Ted Romaine, Director of Origination, Invenergy LLC and Vanessa Miler-Fels, Energy Strategy & Research – Renewable Energy Strategist, Microsoft.  Teresa will focus on how to structure renewable agreements that satisfy both the non-utility buyer’s renewable goals and other organizational needs, and provide the developer a financeable revenue stream to support the renewable project.  

New Treasury Guidance Significantly Expands Field of Renewable Energy Projects That May Qualify for the PTC or ITC

On May 5, the U.S. Treasury Department released Notice 2016-31 to address certain changes made to the Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) and Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (“PATH”) Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-113, Div. Q.  The Notice generally extends the application of the “beginning of construction” and “continuous construction” requirements set forth in Notices 2013-29, 2013-60, 2014-46, and 2015-25, and also favorably modifies several key factors of both requirements.  In addition, on May 18, the U.S. Treasury Department released a revised version of Notice 2016-31, which states that the provisions of Notice 2016-31 apply to any project for which a taxpayer claims the PTC or, via Code Section 48(a)(5), the ITC, that is placed in service after January 2, 2013.

Read More

Eagle Take Permit Program Revamped – Longer Permits and Clearer Mitigation Requirements

The United States Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed revisions to its regulations authorizing take of bald and golden eagles.

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (“BGEPA”) imposes criminal and civil penalties against “whoever . . . shall take . . . any bald . . . or any golden eagle, alive or dead, or any part, nest, or egg thereof . . . .” “Take” is broadly defined to mean “pursue, shoot, shoot at, poison, wound, kill, capture, trap, collect, molest or disturb.” The United States has expressed its intent to pursue companies that violate BGEPA.

Read the full alert on K&L Gates HUB.

Treasury Department Issues New Guidance on PTC and ITC

Earlier today, May 5, the U.S. Treasury Department released Notice 2016-31 to address certain changes made to the Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) and Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (“PATH”) Act of 2015, Pub. L. No. 114-113, Div. Q.  The Notice generally extends the application of the “beginning of construction” and “continuous construction” requirements set forth in Notices 2013-29, 2013-60, 2014-46, and 2015-25, but also creates a few new provisions that apply to renewable energy projects seeking the PTC or ITC after the PATH Act revisions to the Internal Revenue Code.

Read More

Comprehensive Energy Policy Legislation: A Side-by-Side Comparison of H.R. 8 & S. 2012

Legislative History

In July 2015, comprehensive bills that would modernize U.S. energy policy for the first time since 2007 were introduced in the House and Senate. Notwithstanding their respective controversies, both bills started their legislative journeys with bipartisan support.  That same month, the Senate reported their bill (S. 2012) out of Committee 18-4, and the House bill (H.R. 8) passed unanimously through the Energy and Power Subcommittee.

In the House, the bipartisan spirit appeared to wane in August and September.  The House’s bill lost much of its bipartisan support in the wake of a substitute amendment offered by Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI).  On September 30, the Energy and Commerce Committee marked the Upton substitute, which was reported out of committee on a largely party-line vote, 32-20.  Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-NJ) promised the Republicans that without the bipartisan concessions, H.R. 8 could be vetoed by the President.  And, indeed, after the bill passed through the full Committee, the White House released an official veto threat against the legislation.  Democrats’ attempts at amending the bill on the floor largely failed.  The bill ultimately passed the House in December by a predominantly party-line vote of 249-174, with only nine Democrats voting in favor.

Back in the Senate, S. 2012 first received floor consideration in late January 2016.  The bill’s sponsors and party leadership were hopeful that, in spite of the anticipated introduction of potentially controversial amendments, the bipartisan spirit of the bill would remain intact throughout floor consideration.  This spirit did largely prevail until the Senators from Michigan insisted that the bill’s passage be contingent on Federal funds for Flint, MI, to address its lead water crisis.  Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) eventually pulled the bill from the floor after it failed to overcome a procedural motion.  The Michigan Senators continued negotiations with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Jim Inhofe (R-OK) to come to an agreement on Flint.  Finally, in April, an agreement came together and S. 2012 was brought back to the floor.  After the consideration of final amendments, the chamber passed the bill by an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote of 85-12.

Up next, the two chambers will form a formal conference committee where they will reconcile the many differences between the two bills.  Both Rep. Upton and Sen. Murkowski have expressed eagerness in getting the bill to the President before the summer recess, which starts July 16.  There is a lot of work yet ahead, but it is expected that efforts will get underway within the coming weeks.  As the Chairperson of the Senate’s committee of jurisdiction, Sen. Murkowski will “hold the gavel” for the conference committee since the House held control of the proceedings during the last major energy bill conference in 2007.  Sen. Murkowski’s optimism and perseverance during the months-long Flint negotiations highlight her ability and willingness to work with her Democratic partner, Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), to accomplish this overhaul legislation and present a final package to the President that is not only comprehensive but bipartisan in nature.

Side-by-Side Comparison

In preparation for conference, we updated our side-by-side comparison of the House- and Senate-passed energy bills.  Our analysis shows 20 issue areas that overlap between the House and Senate energy bills. Those commonalities are charted in the attached side-by-side comparison.  This overlap highlights that while the House Democrats cried partisanship during their markup, the House bill still has plenty of similarities to the bipartisan Senate bill.

Following the chart of commonalities is a list of provisions unique to S. 2012 and then a list unique for H.R. 8.

To view the side-by-side comparison, click here.

FERC Issues Order Extending Deadlines for Energy Storage Comments

As an update to our earlier post on FERC’s latest proceeding related to electric storage resources, on April 27, 2016, FERC issued an order extending the deadline for RTOs and ISOs to submit their responses to FERC’s data requests.  The RTOs’ and ISOs’ responses are now due on May 16, 2016.  FERC also granted an extension to June 6, 2016 for other comments.

Oregon PUC to Hold Energy Storage Workshop on May 9, 2016

The Public Utility Commission of Oregon (the “Commission” or “OPUC”) has scheduled a workshop on May 9, 2016 to assist the Commission with its task of adopting guidelines that utilities are to use when drafting and submitting energy storage proposals under House Bill (HB) 2193.  The workshop was scheduled in response to a Commission-request at the March 30, 2016 prehearing conference in Docket No. UM 1751, which was opened in compliance with HB 2193.  At the prehearing conference, Administrative Law Judge Ruth Harper informed the parties that the Commission wanted the proceeding to start with a Commission workshop to address the purpose and content of the guidelines, as well as the range of viable projects.    Read More

Update on EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Late last month, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) submitted briefs to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia in support of its Clean Power Plan (“CPP”) rule.  The agency’s briefs were filed in response to a challenge against the rule brought by industry groups and states (“Petitioners”).  Amici curiae briefs on both sides of the issue were also filed by several cities, states, advocacy groups, and companies.  The D.C. Circuit will hear oral arguments on the legality of the CPP in June.  In February, the United States Supreme Court stayed the implementation of the CPP until the resolution of these legal challenges.

Since the stay of the CPP, states have operated under uncertainty and have taken different approaches to planning for the potential implementation or invalidation of the rule.

This alert provides a timeline of the events leading to the current status of the CPP, a summary of the different legal arguments in front of the D.C. Circuit, and a brief overview of different state approaches and strategies to plan for the potential implementation of the CPP.

Read the full alert on K&L Gates HUB.

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