Tag: Electricity

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Case Notes: Brazos Electric’s Bankruptcy Filing
2
FERC Updates PURPA Rules and Dismisses Petition to Declare Jurisdiction over Net-Metering Sales
3
FERC Announces Conferences on Carbon Pricing and Offshore Wind in RTOs/ISOs
4
The Energizer – Volume 62
5
THE ENERGIZER – VOLUME 54
6
The Energizer – Volume 52
7
The Energizer – Volume 51
8
The Energizer – Volume 50
9
The Energizer – Volume 49
10
From Fat Duck to Flat Duck to Firm Duck

Case Notes: Brazos Electric’s Bankruptcy Filing

By: Michael B. Lubic and Sumner C. Fontaine

On 1 March 2021, Brazos Electric Power Cooperative, Inc. (“Brazos”) commenced a chapter 11 bankruptcy case in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas. Brazos is a Texas-based non-profit electric cooperative corporation that provides wholesale electricity to its members, which, in turn, provide retail electricity to Texas consumers.  Due to the freezing of essential electric generation and natural gas pipeline equipment during the historic winter storm that blanketed Texas in mid-February 2021 and the resulting spike in wholesale electricity prices, Brazos received approximately $2.1 billion in settlement charge invoices from the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (“ERCOT”).  These invoices, promptly issued during and immediately following the storm, required payment within a matter of days.  In a declaration accompanying the voluntary bankruptcy petition, Mr. Clifton Karnei, Brazos’ Executive Vice President and General Manager, described Brazos’ position following the sudden, dramatic spike in electricity costs as a “liquidity trap that [Brazos] cannot solve with its current balance sheet.” 

Brazos’ first-day pleadings explain that its financial position and need for bankruptcy protection directly result from the effects of February’s winter storm on Texas’ electricity market, specifically on the relationship between Brazos and ERCOT. ERCOT serves a clearinghouse role in one of Texas’ three main energy grids, the Texas Interconnection, which covers 213 of the 254 counties in the state, and is responsible for procuring energy on behalf of its members while also administering the reliable operation of the wholesale electricity market.  To buy and sell wholesale electricity, as Brazos does, ERCOT requires market participants to have sufficient available credit (calculated using a metric based on the participant’s credit limit plus a percentage of tangible net worth, among other factors) to support such participant’s total exposure.  The effects of February’s winter storm on the Texas power grid caused prices to spike to $9,000 per megawatt-hour. The cut-off cap was set on 16 February by ERCOT as demand soared while the state’s electricity supply declined.  For comparison, ERCOT’s monthly prices for wholesale electricity from November 2020 through January 2021 ranged between $21 to $29 per megawatt-hour.  On 16 February, and each of the succeeding three days, ERCOT made collateral calls to Brazos for hundreds of millions of dollars each day, for a total of approximately $1.5 billion in collateral calls.  Brazos filed a notice of force majeure on 25 February, informing ERCOT that it would not satisfy the invoices due to an event outside of Brazos’ reasonable control.  Brazos filed for bankruptcy protection less than one week later.

As of the petition date, Brazos estimates the total principal amount of its funded debt obligations to be approximately $2.04 billion, with $1.81 billion of such debt being secured promissory notes financed through the Federal Financing Bank.  Brazos has fully drawn its $500 million unsecured revolving facility with Bank of America, N.A. and other lenders.  Mr. Karnei states that Brazos’ goals in commencing the chapter 11 case are to preserve its ongoing business operations and propose a reorganization plan to maximize creditors’ recovery.  The first day hearing in front of Judge David Jones is scheduled for 3 March at 2:00 p.m. (EST).

FERC Updates PURPA Rules and Dismisses Petition to Declare Jurisdiction over Net-Metering Sales

By Kimberly Frank, Buck Endemann, Abraham Johns

On July 16, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “the Commission”) issued two noteworthy electric power orders: the first is a final rule (“Order No. 872”) that updates regulations implementing the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (“PURPA”);[1] the second dismisses the New England Ratepayer Association’s (“NERA”) petition for a declaratory order on FERC’s jurisdiction over net energy metering sales.[2] 

Final Rule on PURPA Update

In September 2019, FERC issued of a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“NOPR”) to significantly change how it implements PURPA, a law that applies to small power producers.[3]  In Order No. 872, FERC largely adopted the NOPR’s proposed revisions to the Commission’s regulations implementing PURPA sections 201 and 210.  Notable changes to the PURPA regulations include: (1)  providing additional flexibility to set “avoided cost” rates for qualifying facilities (“QFs”) sales; (2) modifying the “one-mile rule” to allow for consideration that affiliated QFs more than one mile but less than ten miles apart may be at the same site ; (3) revising procedures to  challenge  initial QF certification and re-certification; (4) revising the threshold from 20 megawatts (“MW”) to 5 MW at which a utility may petition to terminate its obligation to purchase from certain QFs; and (5) requiring states to develop criteria that must be met for a QF to be entitled to a contract or legally enforceable obligation (“LEO”).   

Changes included in Order No. 872 will be effective 120 days from publication in the Federal Register.  When effective, Order No. 872 will not affect existing contracts, LEOs, or existing certifications for facilities, but will be prospective, applying to new contracts or LEOs, and certifications or recertifications for facilities filed after the order’s effective date.

Dismissal of NERA Petition for Declaratory Order

On April 14, 2020, NERA filed a petition for declaratory order, seeking FERC’s declaration that FERC holds exclusive jurisdiction over wholesale energy sales from behind-the-meter generation[4] and requiring that the rates for such sales be priced pursuant to the Federal Power Act (“FPA”) or PURPA, when applicable.  Specifically, NERA asked FERC to declare jurisdiction over energy sales of rooftop solar and other distributed energy resources on the customer side whenever the output exceeds the customer’s demand, or the energy is meant to bypass customer load.  NERA characterized “full net metering,” as “a practice through which an electricity consumer produces electric energy from a generation source (most often solar panels) that is located on the same side of the retail meter as the customer’s load.”[5]  Historically, the Commission sees such transactions as retail in nature and regulated by the states.  NERA argued, however, that the energy exceeding customer demand or bypassing customer load is sold to a utility for resale to customers, making them wholesale sales, and therefore, subject to FERC’s jurisdiction.[6] 

The Commission began its analysis with a reminder: “Declaratory orders to terminate a controversy or remove uncertainty are discretionary.”[7]  The Commission then used its discretion not to address the issues presented, as they did not “warrant a generic statement” from FERC.[8]  The Commission found that NERA never identified “a specific controversy or harm” to be addressed.[9]  Further, the Commission found that to the extent NERA is concerned that certain New England state regulatory authorities are not pricing QF sales in accordance with PURPA, the petition did not meet PURPA’s requirements for enforcement. 


[1] Qualifying Facility Rates and Requirements Implementation Issues Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, 172 FERC ¶ 61,041 (2020).

[2] New England Ratepayers Ass’n, 172 FERC ¶ 61,042 (2020) (“NERA Order”).

[3] Qualifying Facility Rates and Requirements Implementation Issues Under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, 168 FERC ¶ 61,184 (2019) (“NOPR”).

[4] Behind-the-meter generation refers to energy generated from the customer side of the retail meter.

[5] NERA Order at P 3.

[6] NERA Order at P 4.

[7] NERA Order at P 35.

[8] NERA Order at P 35.

[9] NERA Order at P 36-37.

FERC Announces Conferences on Carbon Pricing and Offshore Wind in RTOs/ISOs

By: William Keyser, David Hattery, Buck Endemann, and Abraham Johns

On June 18, 2020, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) announced that it will hold two separate technical conferences later this year.  First, FERC will hold a Commissioner-led technical conference on September 30, 2020 to discuss issues related to carbon dioxide emission pricing (i.e., “carbon pricing”) as adopted by states in FERC-jurisdictional wholesale electricity markets (“Carbon Pricing in Organized Wholesale Electricity Markets”).  Second, FERC staff will hold a technical conference on October 27, 2020 to discuss whether existing frameworks for transmission, interconnection, and merchant transmission facilities can incorporate the growing offshore wind generation efficiently and effectively (“Offshore Wind Integration in RTOs/ISOs”).

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The Energizer – Volume 62

By: Buck B. EndemannDaniel S. CohenMolly K. BarkerOlivia B. MoraAbraham F. JohnsNatalie J. Reid, Matthew P. Clark

A biweekly update on blockchain technology applications, distributed energy resources, and other innovative technologies in the energy sector.

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology, distributed energy resources (“DERs”), microgrids, and other technological innovations in the energy industry. As these innovations develop, energy markets will undergo substantial changes to which consumer and industry participants alike will need to adapt and leverage. Every other week, K&L Gates’ The Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology, DERs, and other innovations driving the energy industry forward. To subscribe to The Energizer newsletter, please click here.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Researchers Create Nanowire Device That Can Generate Electricity “Out of Thin Air”
  • Shell’s Offshore Wind Farm Wades into Deep Waters for the World’s Largest Green Hydrogen Project
  • EWF Completes Joint Test of Renewables Blockchain Market in Japan
  • University of British Columbia Engineers Combine Microgrids and Low-Power Systems to Reduce Blackouts
  • Think Tank Envisions Artificial Intelligence Solutions to Combat Climate Change

To view more information on these topics in Volume 62 of The Energizer, click here.

THE ENERGIZER – VOLUME 54

A biweekly update on blockchain technology applications, distributed energy resources, and other innovative technologies in the energy sector.

By: Buck B. Endemann, Benjamin L. Tejblum, Daniel S. Cohen, Toks A. Arowojolu, Olivia B. Mora, Abraham F. Johns

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology, distributed energy resources (“DERs”), microgrids, and other technological innovations in the energy industry. As these innovations develop, energy markets will undergo substantial changes to which consumer and industry participants alike will need to adapt and leverage. Every other week, K&L Gates’ The Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology, DERs, and other innovations driving the energy industry forward. To subscribe to The Energizer, please click here.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Nanobio Lab Scientists Working to Simplify and Scale Lithium-Sulfur Battery Production
  • California Public Utilities Commission Awaits Commentary on Microgrid Proceeding
  • Largest Residential Battery Demand Response Project Is Open for Business
  • Power Ledger Expands Reach with New Trials in Japan and Malaysia

To view more information on these topics in Volume 54 of The Energizer, click here.

The Energizer – Volume 52

A biweekly update on blockchain technology applications, distributed energy resources, and other innovative technologies in the energy sector.

By Buck B. EndemannBenjamin L. TejblumDaniel S. CohenToks A. ArowojoluOlivia B. Mora, and Abraham F. Johns

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology, distributed energy resources (“DERs”), microgrids, and other technological innovations in the energy industry. As these innovations develop, energy markets will undergo substantial changes to which consumer and industry participants alike will need to adapt and leverage. Every other week, K&L Gates’ The Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology, DERs, and other innovations driving the energy industry forward. To subscribe to the Energizer, please click here.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • EDF Renewables Acquires PowerFlex Systems to Boost EV Technology.
  • DOE Awards $200,000 to Blockchain Start-Up to Improve Grid Data Integrity.
  • Five States Leading the Charge in DER Integration.

To view more information on these topics in Volume 52 of The Energizerclick here.

The Energizer – Volume 51

A biweekly update on blockchain technology applications, distributed energy resources, and other innovative technologies in the energy sector.

By Buck B. EndemannBenjamin L. TejblumDaniel S. CohenToks A. ArowojoluOlivia B. Mora, and Abraham F. Johns

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology, distributed energy resources (“DERs”), microgrids, and other technological innovations in the energy industry. As these innovations develop, energy markets will undergo substantial changes to which consumer and industry participants alike will need to adapt and leverage. Every other week, K&L Gates’ The Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology, DERs, and other innovations driving the energy industry forward. To subscribe to the Energizer, please click here.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Softbank Vision Fund Invests $110 Million in Energy Vault’s Gravity Storage Plants.
  • Omega Grid Trial will Use Blockchain to Connect Electric Vehicles and Solar Generators.
  • Study Describes How to Effectively Move Existing Energy system onto a Blockchain Platform.
  • Hawaiian Electric Seeks Bids for 900MW of Renewable Energy and Energy Storage Projects.

To view more information on these topics in Volume 51 of The Energizer, click here.

The Energizer – Volume 50

A biweekly update on blockchain technology applications, distributed energy resources, and other innovative technologies in the energy sector.

By Buck B. EndemannBenjamin L. TejblumDaniel S. CohenToks A. ArowojoluOlivia B. Mora, and Abraham F. Johns

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology, distributed energy resources (“DERs”), microgrids, and other technological innovations in the energy industry. As these innovations develop, energy markets will undergo substantial changes to which consumer and industry participants alike will need to adapt and leverage. Every other week, K&L Gates’ The Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology, DERs, and other innovations driving the energy industry forward. To subscribe to the Energizer, please click here.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • Power Ledger and Kepco Complete P2P Trading Trial
  • Glendale, California, Drops Gas Plant for Clean Integrated Resource Plan
  • BPX Energy and Ondiflo Finish Blockchain Pilot Program

To view more information on these topics in Volume 50 of The Energizer, click here.

The Energizer – Volume 49

A biweekly update on blockchain technology applications, distributed energy resources, and other innovative technologies in the energy sector.

By Buck B. Endemann, Benjamin L. Tejblum, Daniel S. Cohen, Toks A. Arowojolu, Olivia B. Mora, and Abraham F. Johns

There is a lot of buzz around blockchain technology, distributed energy resources (“DERs”), microgrids, and other technological innovations in the energy industry. As these innovations develop, energy markets will undergo substantial changes to which consumer and industry participants alike will need to adapt and leverage. Every other week, K&L Gates’ The Energizer will highlight emerging issues or stories relating to the use of blockchain technology, DERs, and other innovations driving the energy industry forward. To subscribe to the Energizer, please click here.

IN THIS ISSUE:

  • GE and BlackRock Launch Distributed Solar and Storage Business.
  • 400-MW Montana Pumped Storage Hydro Project Funded.
  • Major Chinese Energy Service Provider to Develop Blockchain Platform for LNG.
  • Indonesian NEWX Energy to Implement Blockchain Smart City Ecosystem.

To view more information on these topics in Volume 49 of The Energizer, click here.

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’).

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