Category: Solar

1
From Fat Duck to Flat Duck to Firm Duck
2
RENEWS SOUTHEAST – VOLUME 4
3
ReNEWS Southeast – Volume 1
4
FERC Grants Waivers to Exempt Solar Aggregator from Certain QF Requirements
5
RENEWABLE ENERGY BUYERS’ SUMMIT
6
Join K&L Gates at NEBC’s Energy Workshop on Thursday, June 7
7
Tax Credits for Storage After Solar or Wind?
8
President Trump Imposes Tariffs on Imported Solar Modules and Cells
9
Washington, D.C. Partner Recognized in #Solar100
10
Tax Reform Conference Bill Released: PTC and ITC Emerge Battered

From Fat Duck to Flat Duck to Firm Duck

By: Matt Baumgurtel and Rachel Lawlor

How Energy Storage is Creating New Opportunities

A major disruption to the global economy is coming in the form of a seismic shift in energy markets. Largely driven by energy storage, this disruption will create exciting opportunities for the renewable energy market and will, in our view, drastically change the time of day electricity price curve (that is, the ‘duck curve’).

Read More

RENEWS SOUTHEAST – VOLUME 4

K&L Gates reports on the latest renewable energy policies and activities in the southeastern United States

By Kenneth J. GishWilliam M. KeyserAbraham F. JohnsOlivia B. Mora, and Laura B. Truesdale

K&L Gates’ ReNEWS Southeast is a periodic bulletin that will track key developments in renewable energy policy, activities, and technologies that are driving the industry forward.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Dominion Energy Breaks Ground on Virginia’s First Offshore Wind Installation
  • Duke Energy Hits Milestone of 1GW of Owned Solar Energy
  • Offshore Wind Areas Examined Off East Coast from Virginia to South Carolina
  • North Carolina Legislature Drops Ban on Wind Projects

View more details of Volume 4 by clicking here.

ReNEWS Southeast – Volume 1

K&L Gates reports on the latest renewable energy policies and activities in the southeastern United States

By Kenneth J. Gish, William M. Keyser, Abraham F. Johns, Olivia B. Mora, and Laura B. Truesdale

Welcome to the inaugural edition of ReNEWS Southeast!

K&L Gates’ ReNEWS Southeast is a periodic bulletin that will track key developments in renewable energy policy, activities, and technologies that are driving the industry forward.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Southeastern States See Large Year-Over-Year Increase in Renewable Output
  • Florida PSC Approves TECO Solar Tariff
  • Installation Set to Begin on United States’ Second Offshore Wind Project
  • Large Solar Farm Set to Open in South Carolina
  • Offshore Wind Turbine Components Could Eventually Be Manufactured in North Carolina
  • North Carolina Allows Duke Energy to Implement Cutting-Edge Microgrid Project, and State Receives Large Commitment of Solar Farm From Novo Nordisk
  • South Carolina Solar Law Eliminates 2% Net Metering Cap Along With Other Solar Advancements
  • Power Is on at Tennessee’s Largest Solar Development

To view more information on these topics in Volume 1 of ReNEWS Southeast, click here.

FERC Grants Waivers to Exempt Solar Aggregator from Certain QF Requirements

By William M. Keyser and Toks A. Arowojolu

On April 18, 2019, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) issued an order granting a petition for declaratory order filed by Sunrun, Inc. (“Sunrun”) that exempted Sunrun, the nation’s largest residential solar company, from certain qualifying facility (“QF”) filing requirements under the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) and the Public Utilities Holding Company Act (“PUHCA”). The requested waiver would allow Sunrun to avoid significant administrative and regulatory burdens by avoiding potentially hundreds of QF filings as it increases the number of photovoltaic (“PV”) systems it owns on behalf of its customers.

QFs have the right to sell energy or capacity to a utility at an avoided cost rate and receive relief from certain regulatory burdens. To qualify as a QF, eligible facilities (including solar facilities) with power production capacity of greater than 1 MW (1000 kW) must certify their status with the Commission by either submitting a Form 556 self-certification or filing an application. Facilities with net power production of 1 MW or less are exempt from this filing requirement. When determining the size of a QF, FERC applies a “one-mile rule.” Under the “one-mile” rule, QFs located within a mile of another facility that use the same energy source and have the same owner are considered one QF for purposes of determining whether the QF surpasses the 80MW requirement for QF eligibility. FERC also applies the one-mile rule to determine whether a QF is 1 MW or less and therefore exempt from the QF certification filing requirement.

The one-mile rule carries potential consequences for developers of small and distributed rooftop solar systems like Sunrun, particularly when they retain ownership over the individual systems. According to the petition, Sunrun’s customers can choose to have Sunrun finance the PV system with Sunrun initially retaining ownership and continuing to monitor, maintain, and insure the system. Under Sunrun’s system, the homeowner is granted an option to buy the PV system later.

Sunrun filed its petition in September 2018 requesting waivers of two QF certification requirements to support its business model of selling, owning, and maintaining residential solar PV systems. First, Sunrun requested a waiver of the QF certification filing requirement for separately interconnected, individual residential rooftop solar PV systems with a maximum net power production of 20 kw or less that Sunrun provides financing for but which the homeowner has an option to purchase. Because Sunrun could conceivably finance or own many such 20 kW systems within one-mile radius, it would be possible for all such 20 kW systems to aggregate to over 1 MW and trigger QF certification filing requirement. Second, Sunrun also requested that, in a self-certification submitted for a cluster of rooftop PV systems that exceed 20 kW, FERC waive the requirement to include information for the facilities covered by the first waiver request (i.e., 20 kW or less).

Sunrun explained to FERC that its concerns were two fold: (1) while 99.5% of the residential PV systems that Sunrun owns have a nameplate capacity below 20kW, PV systems within close proximity to one another can collectively be deemed to be one QF under the one-mile rule, and (2) without the waivers, Sunrun would have to “monitor the geographic concentration of its PV systems” and file and continuously update a highly burdensome number of filings. With Sunrun’s 202,000 PV systems spread across 22 states, numerous applications would be expected.

FERC granted the requested waivers, finding that Sunrun’s request aligned with the purpose of the 1MW exemption which is “to ease the administrative burden for both the Commission and small scale QFs.” FERC also directed Sunrun to maintain sufficient records of the residential PV portfolio that it owns through “third-party financing arrangements” to ensure that its aggregated solar resources are in compliance with other federal regulations. FERC’s ruling could provide an opportunity for Sunrun and other rooftop solar aggregators to sell solar power into the wholesale markets. However, despite the easing of the administrative and regulatory burden at FERC, solar aggregators are still subject to a host of interconnection and state regulatory requirements that would also need to be addressed. We will continue to monitor the developments of this proceeding and its impacts on the solar PV and wholesale markets.

RENEWABLE ENERGY BUYERS’ SUMMIT

January 9-11, 2019

K&L Gates is proud to sponsor the 2019 Infocast Renewable Energy Buyers’ Summit (REBA). REBA is an invitation-only event where renewable energy buyers gather to discuss renewable energy procurement best practices with their fellow corporate buyers, as well as get valuable insights from leading renewable energy experts.

Teresa Hill will be moderating a panel on Latest Trends in PPA Terms and Structuring, and Bill Holmes will be moderating two panels, Assessing the Potential of Green Tariffs as a Renewable Sourcing Option, where attendees will assess the potential of green tariffs to provide a viable sourcing solution for renewable buyers, and Distributed Energy Solutions to Meet Corporate Goals, which will focus on on-site solar and energy storage.

Please let us know if you will be in attendance!

Join K&L Gates at NEBC’s Energy Workshop on Thursday, June 7

Please join us on Thursday, June 7, 2018 as we host the Northwest Environmental Business Council’s (NEBC) Energy Workshop “Powering Our Future: Insight into the Growth of Renewables.”

As host of the event in our Seattle office, our partners Ankur Tohan and Alyssa Moir and associate Endre Szalay will speak on a panel titled “Solar & Wind Project Development: Navigating Risk and Seizing Opportunity.”

PROGRAM OVERVIEW

Join us for an engaging afternoon of discussions on policy, technology, and legal hot topics in the renewable energy industry. Panelists representing perspectives from power producers, power purchasers, energy investors, utility, and the legal industry will discuss the role of competitive markets in the renewable energy sector, the impact and increasing presence of renewables and storage on the grid, and renewable project development issues and opportunities with a focus on the Northwest.

The workshop is presented free of charge to NEBC members and all interested parties.

DETAILS

Thursday, June 7
1:45 – 2:00 p.m.: Registration & Opening Remarks

2:00 – 5:00 p.m.: Technical Workshop

5:00 – 6:00 p.m.: Happy Hour

Location: K&L Gates LLP, 925 Fourth Avenue, Suite 2900, Seattle, WA

REGISTRATION

For more details and to register, click here.

Tax Credits for Storage After Solar or Wind?

By Elizabeth Crouse, Elias Hinckley and William Holmes

On Friday, March 2, the Internal Revenue Service released Private Letter Ruling (“PLR”) 201809003. The PLR is not binding precedent, but it indicates that the IRS will permit a taxpayer to claim a Code Section 25D credit in respect of a residential battery installed after the solar panels to which it will be attached was installed. In the PLR, the IRS expressly states that it will treat the battery as property that “uses solar energy to generate electricity,” provided only solar energy is used to charge it.

The PLR concerns individuals claiming a credit for a residential system, but don’t stop reading. This outcome matters for C&I and utility scale projects also.

Read More

President Trump Imposes Tariffs on Imported Solar Modules and Cells

By Stacy Ettinger and James Wrathall

President Trump announced the imposition of tariffs on imported crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) modules and cells, as previously recommended by the U.S. International Trade Commission.  The tariffs will be effective February 7, 2018.

Importers will be required to pay a tariff in the amount of 30 percent of the entered value in the first year, declining by 5 percent a year in each of the second, third, and fourth years.  With respect to CSPV solar cells, the first 2.5 gigawatts imported in each year will be exempted from the tariff.  These tariffs are in addition to the antidumping and countervailing duties relief previously imposed by the U.S. Department of Commerce on Chinese solar imports.

For U.S. solar developers and installers, the initial 30 percent tariff is expected to add 10 to 15 cents per watt to the final installed price.  Green Tech Media Research (“GTM”) has predicted this will cause a reduction of approximately 10 percent in U.S. installed solar capacity.  The tariffs do not apply to technologies other than CSPV, specifically thin film modules.  Therefore manufacturers of thin film products such as Solar Frontier and First Solar may see increased relative market share.

The biggest impacts on projects are expected in the utility-scale solar sector, which is largely dependent on being competitive with other generation sources.  Residential solar is viewed as more resilient and less sensitive to price changes.

Some CSPV manufacturing might shift to free trade agreement countries not included in the injury finding.  In particular, manufacturers based in Singapore or Canada may benefit, if the President’s proclamation reflects the approach taken by a majority of the ITC Commissioners to exclude these countries from the tariff program.

China, South Korea, and other countries with exports subject to the tariffs will likely file complaints before the World Trade Organization (“WTO”).  It is unclear what position the current Administration would take in response to an adverse WTO decision, if any. In any case, the WTO dispute settlement process itself could take anywhere from two to four years to complete.

Companies should consider steps to mitigate impacts of these tariffs.  Reportedly over two gigawatts of modules have already been procured for 2018 projects in the United States.  Accessing stockpiles of solar equipment may aid in reducing economic impacts.

The formal proclamation signed today by President Trump provides for exclusion of particular products from the safeguard measure. Procedures for requests for exclusion will be published in the Federal Register within 30 days.  Companies may want to review the product exclusion process and consider whether an exclusion request is warranted.

 

Tax Reform Conference Bill Released: PTC and ITC Emerge Battered

By Elizabeth C. Crouse

Earlier this evening, the conference committee considering the tax reform bills previously passed by the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate released legislative text for the much rumored conference bill. Although neither the Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) nor the Investment Tax Credit (“ITC”) are directly impacted, the Base Erosion and Anti-Abuse Tax (often referred to as the “BEAT” or “International AMT”) provides only partial relief for U.S. corporations subject to that tax that have PTCs or ITCs available to offset their U.S. federal income tax.

Under the conference bill, a U.S. corporation that is subject to the International AMT may use up to the lesser of 80% of the PTCs and ITCs available to them or the “base erosion minimum tax amount” only through 2025. The PTC and ITC cannot be used to eliminate any International AMT otherwise due.

As in previous iterations of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the conference bill does not distinguish between PTCs and ITCs earned in respect of qualifying projects that have already been placed in service or begun construction. In addition, although the International AMT rate has been adjusted (5% for tax years beginning in 2018, 10% for tax years beginning between 2019 and 2025, and 12.5% thereafter), the rate applicable to U.S. corporations that are in an affiliated group with any bank or registered securities dealer will always be 1% higher than the generally applicable rate. In addition, the PTC and ITC cannot be used to reduce the International AMT due in any tax year beginning in 2026 or thereafter.

Thus, although the impact of the International AMT is somewhat reduced in the conference bill, the International AMT could still prompt some multinational investors in renewable energy projects to divest certain operating projects and projects under development as well as discourage investment in new projects.

Copyright © 2019, K&L Gates LLP. All Rights Reserved.