Renewable energy will play a major role in EPA’s latest proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions from electric generating facilities. On June 2, 2014, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy proposed a new regulation for cutting carbon pollution from existing electric generating units (EGUs). This rule is perhaps the most significant action to date in the President’s Climate Action Plan announced last year. The rule will require EGUs to reduce their CO2 emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2005 levels. EPA assigned a CO2 goal for each state but lets states choose how best to meet the goal. Read More
On May 19, 2014, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a long-delayed final rulemaking regulating cooling water intake structures at existing facilities under Section 316(b) of the Clean Water Act (CWA). For more than two decades, environmental advocates have pushed EPA to issue a rule under Section 316(b) in order to protect aquatic organisms, such as fish and shellfish, that become pinned against cooling water intake structures (impingement) or are drawn into cooling water systems (entrainment). Previously, EPA issued rules governing cooling water intakes at new facilities. The latest rulemaking addresses intakes at existing facilities. If unchallenged in court, this final rule would conclude what has been more than twenty years of litigation between EPA and environmental organizations.
Section 316(b) requires that the location, design, construction, and capacity of cooling water intake structures for facilities having a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit “reflect the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact.”  The final rule seeks to minimize environmental harm associated with cooling water intake structures by identifying the best technology available (BTA) to reduce impingement and entrainment for certain categories of existing facilities and new units at existing facilities. These new requirements will be implemented through NPDES permits under Section 402 of the Clean Water Act. Read More
As energy storage matures both technologically and commercially, several investor owned and municipal utilities have begun formal processes to procure storage. Recent examples include Southern California Edison’s request for energy storage to satisfy local capacity requirements in the Los Angeles basin, the Imperial Irrigation District’s request for qualifications with respect to 40 MW of energy storage (summary available here), Southern California Public Power Authority’s request for energy storage proposals pursuant to its rolling RFP process (summary available here and here), Long Island Power Authority’s request for proposals for up to 150 MW of energy storage, and the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative’s recent storage RFP.
Hawaiian Electric Company’s solicitation for large-scale energy storage systems is the latest large energy storage RFP and represents another significant step in the ongoing commercialization of the energy storage sector. Hawaiian Electric’s procurement deserves to be watched carefully.
The RFP seeks proposals for one or more large-scale, grid-connected energy storage systems capable of storing 60 to 200 MW for 30 minutes. Although several of the procurements noted above contemplate the use of power purchase agreements (typically structured like gas tolling agreements) to secure access to storage, Hawaiian Electric has asked for a firm lump-sum price proposal to engineer, procure and construct one or more systems to be located on the island of O’ahu. The RFP package includes the utility’s proposed form of engineering, procurement and construction services (EPC) contract.
Hawaiian Electric intends to use energy storage to continue integrating variable renewable energy generation. Renewable energy on O’ahu consists primarily of wind and solar photovoltaic (PV). The utility anticipates that energy storage will provide certain services, such as sub-second frequency response and minute-to-minute load following, that will allow more of O’ahu’s electricity to come from variable resources. The system(s) are expected to be located within Hawaiian Electric substation facilities and properties, and the utility’s goal is to place the system(s) into service in the first quarter of 2017, if not sooner.
Hawaiian Electric recently extended the deadline to submit an “Intent to Bid Form” to 10:00 am Hawaii Standard Time on May 29, 2014. The deadline for the response to the RFP itself is 10:00 am Hawaii Standard Time on July 21, 2014.
The RFP can be found here.
The Australian Government recently released draft legislation to implement the Emissions Reduction Fund (Fund), which is the cornerstone of the Government’s Direct Action Plan climate change policy. The Direct Action Plan centres around the purchase of greenhouse gas emissions reductions by the Government (via the Fund).
The release of the draft Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Amendment Bill 2014 (Cth) (Bill) follows issuance of an Emissions Reduction Fund Green Paper late last year and a subsequent White Paper in April 2014, both regarding the design of the Fund.
The Bill will amend the Carbon Credits (Carbon Farming Initiative) Act 2011 (Cth) (CFI Act) and build on the existing Carbon Farming Initiative (CFI) under that Act by providing for the purchase of greenhouse gas emission reductions credits by the Government. The Bill also makes minor amendments to associated Commonwealth legislation.
Senate consideration of legislation to reinstate 55 expired incentives ground to a halt on May 15. The Senate fell 7 votes short of ending a Republican filibuster. While many Republicans support the underlying package, they are opposed to efforts by Senate Majority Leader Reid to limit amendments.
The bill includes a dozen energy-related measures such as the renewable electricity production tax credit and biofuels credits.
Negotiations between key Democrats and Republicans will resume the week of May 19 in hopes of reaching an agreement to end the filibuster and allow the tax package to come up for votes. If the two sides remain at a standoff, the bill may not come up for a vote until after the November election.
In a Noticed of Proposed Rulemaking announced on May 16, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proposed the following three reforms to reduce regulatory burdens for generators that own generation tie-lines (also known as Interconnection Customer’s Interconnection Facilities or “ICIF”) and to promote the development of generation resources, while still ensuring open access to those seeking transmission service over the ICIF:
• Blanket Waiver of Certain Open Access Rules: A public utility (1) that is subject to open access transmission tariff (OATT) requirements, open access posting requirements, and FERC’s standard of conduct rules solely because it owns, controls, or operates ICIF and (2) that sells electric energy from its Generating Facility would be granted a waiver from the requirement to file an OATT and from related open access posting requirements and standard of conduct rules. Also, unlike under the current policy under which a third-party request for transmission service automatically revokes a generator’s OATT waiver, the proposed blanket waiver would not be revoked if transmission service over the ICIF is requested by a third party.
• Federal Power Act (FPA) Sections 210 and 211 Apply to Third-Party Requests for Service: For a third party to obtain interconnection and transmission services on ICIF, the third-party must submit an application to FERC under Federal Power Act (FPA) sections 210 and 211, 16 U.S.C. §§ 824i-j. Sections 210 and 211 grant FERC the authority to require, respectively, the physical interconnection of a third-party’s facilities and the provision of transmission service to a third party if FERC determines that doing so is in the public interest.
• Five-Year Safe Harbor Preserving Priority Transmission Rights: ICIF owners that are eligible for the proposed blanket waiver would be entitled to a rebuttable presumption that (1) they have definitive plans to use the capacity on the ICIF and (2) they should not be required to expand their facilities. The rebuttable presumption would last for a period of five years following the ICIF’s energization. However, the ICIF owner would need to make an informational filing to FERC reporting that its five-year safe harbor period had begun. The safe harbor period is intended to preserve eligible ICIF owners’ priority use, which is particularly important to generation projects that will be developed in phases.
The proposed reforms would replace FERC’s current policy of granting priority transmission rights and waivers of OATT and related open access requirements to ICIF owners on a case-by-case basis. FERC found that its current case-by-case approach has created undue risk, burden, and uncertainty for generation developers. The proposed reforms are intended to mitigate these problems while still ensuring open, non-discriminatory access to the transmission grid.
FERC’s announcement seeks comments from the industry on ways to implement and refine the proposed rule, including comments on: (1) the circumstances under which the proposed blanket waiver should not apply or might be revoked, (2) whether planned future use by an affiliate of an ICIF owner is an appropriate factor for the Commission to consider when making a priority rights determination in a Section 210 or 211 proceeding, and (3) whether the structure and length of the proposed safe harbor period is appropriate. Comments on the proposed rule will be due 60 days after the notice of the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register.
Stay tuned for more alerts from K&L Gates with more in-depth analysis of the proposed rule. If you would like to sign up to receive K&L Gates energy alerts, you can do so here.
Is your company planning on or already doing business in India? If so, you need to familiarize yourself with the latest business, political, and regulatory issues affecting your business and your employees when entering this promising but challenging and diverse market. In this complimentary webinar, a panel of K&L Gates partners with vast experience working with companies who are doing business in India, will address a range of legal issues to give you a comprehensive grasp on the business operating environment in India. The purpose of this webinar is to provide international legal and business context. The information in this webinar should not be considered legal advice on Indian law or otherwise. Like all non-Indian law firms, K&L Gates does not practice Indian law and we work with a network of counsel in India on Indian law issues as necessary in any given situation.
To learn more and to RSVP for log-in instructions, visit the event page here.
On Friday, President Obama announced private sector goals and commitments for solar installation, applauded those private financial institutions which are “leading the way” on solar and renewable investments, and announced a series of “executive actions” which the Administration is taking to stimulate the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Read the White House Fact Sheet here.
The President’s announcement came in the middle of Senate debate on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill which has been stalled for years in the US Senate. And again this week, because of issues unrelated to energy efficiency, it appears that the bill will not advance. The Administration has clearly decided – as they have on other energy and environment issues – to take steps which do not need Congressional action in order to advance the President’s energy agenda. Read More
The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are considering whether to release a third round of guidance on the production tax credit (PTC) for renewable electricity under Section 45 of the Tax Code and the investment tax credit (ITC) in lieu of the PTC under Section 48. The intent of the guidance would be to further clarify the changes in the PTC/ITC enacted as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012 (ATRA) (Pub. L. No. 112-240). Read More
A team of K&L Gates attorneys will attend the AWEA WINDPOWER 2014 conference and exhibition in Las Vegas from May 5 to 8. This premier industry event brings together a diverse group of professionals with interest in wind power – project developers, suppliers, technicians, power purchasers, service providers, and others – to discuss trends, to hear from innovators and specialists, and to network and collaborate with colleagues. Our attorneys look forward to contributing to the conversation at the K&L Gates exhibit booth (no. 2977). Please be sure to stop by and say hello.
Additionally, K&L Gates attorneys Sam Hines and Lindsey Greer will present on the importance of worker status in the offshore wind environment during the poster presentations on Wednesday, May 6 from 4:30pm to 6:00pm in Bayside Hall D. Please join Sam and Lindsey to discuss the various legal statuses offshore workers hold under U.S. maritime law and the potential liabilities offshore employers can face in the event of a worker injury.
We look forward to seeing you at AWEA.
To learn more about the K&L Gates attorneys attending the event, please click on the names listed below: