Tag: Oregon

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Energy Storage RFPs May Spread to Oregon
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Energy Tax Incentives Prominent in Senate Finance Committee’s Extenders Package
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Important Upcoming Energy Storage Events on the US West Coast

Energy Storage RFPs May Spread to Oregon

The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) recently announced that it is considering issuing a solicitation for demonstration electrical energy storage projects in late 2014.  To prepare for possible funding opportunities, ODOE seeks public comments about the “scope, number and priority” of proposals that use “electrical storage technology, specifically batteries” to provide resiliency and regulation.  ODOE noted that potential proposals may include, among others, projects that support transmission system devices such as static var compensators, projects that would be co-located with renewable energy generation where there are transmission constraints, projects that would provide stabilization to industrial facilities during outages, and projects that would co-locate renewable energy generation with distributed energy storage. 

ODOE also seeks comment on the selection criteria that it has preliminarily identified, which include the sponsor’s ability to secure adequate funding for project implementation, the project’s commercial viability, the sponsor’s willingness to allow multiple public entities to collect data from the project for a year after commissioning, “integrity benefits” to the distribution or transmission system, and “resiliency benefits” to emergency service providers or critical services.

ODOE also seeks comments on whether it should prioritize geographic areas in Oregon that would benefit from grid improvements, whether it should prefer certain parties (such as small utilities) as grant recipients, whether it should give preference to certain technologies, what kind of transparency and data requirements should be used, and how a pilot energy storage project could be used to support standards development.

ODOE’s “Comment Opportunity” can be found hereComments are due on August 29.

The agency’s request for comments is an outgrowth of an energy storage workshop co-hosted by ODOE and the Oregon Public Utility Commission (OPUC) in Portland in March 2014.  I attended the workshop, and found it very informative.  The morning session of the workshop featured panels that discussed a range of energy storage technologies and their potential applications. During the afternoon session, participants broke into groups for roundtable discussions on various topics.  ODOE and OPUC did a good job of reducing the proceedings to writing—you can find summaries of the Roundtable sessions and the presentations here.  These materials provide useful background on how ODOE and OPUC are thinking about the development of energy storage in Oregon.

ODOE’s ability to proceed with the solicitation appears to be conditioned on what the agency describes as a “potential partnership” with U.S. Department of Energy, Sandia National Laboratories and the Clean Energy States Alliance.  Whether this particular solicitation materializes or not, Oregon is now among a number of states such as California, Hawaii  and New York that are recognizing the important role that energy storage will play in electric power supply, delivery, and security in the years ahead.

Energy Tax Incentives Prominent in Senate Finance Committee’s Extenders Package

The Senate Finance Committee approved its long-awaited tax extenders package on April 3, 2014. The Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act, which the Committee approved by voice vote, would extend dozens of temporary tax incentives that expired at the end of last year or are set to expire at the end of this year. Moreover, the package includes numerous energy tax incentives that lapsed at the end of last year.

The EXPIRE Act would extend the following energy tax provisions:

  • * Production tax credit and investment tax credit with respect to facilities producing electricity from certain renewable sources (e.g., wind) (Sections 45 and 48)
  • * Deduction for energy efficient commercial building property (Section 179D)
  • * Credit for residential energy efficient property (Section 25C)
  • Alternative fuel refueling property credit (Section 30C)
  • Credit for electric motorcycles and three-wheeled vehicles (Section 30D)
  • Second generation biofuel producer credit (Section 40)
  • Special depreciation allowance for second generation biofuel plant property (Section 168(l))
  • Tax credits for biodiesel and renewable diesel (Section 40A)
  • Credit for the production of Indian coal (Section 45(e)(10))
  • Credit for energy efficient new homes (Section 45L)
  • Alternative fuel and alternative fuel mixture credit (Sections 6426 and 6427(e))
  • Credit for new qualified fuel cell motor vehicles (Section 30B) (expires in 2014)

* Provision was not included in Senator Ron Wyden’s (D-OR) “Chairman’s mark” but was added to the package before the Committee’s mark-up.

That said, the EXPIRE Act is, for the most part, a “clean” extenders package, meaning that the proposal mostly changes termination dates and includes few changes to underlying policy. As a result, certain modifications sought by the renewable energy industry were not included. For example, the proposal would not expand Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs) along the lines of Senator Chris Coons’ Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act (S. 795). Additionally, the EXPIRE Act would not impose a “commence construction” requirement (as opposed to a “placed in service” requirement) with respect to solar projects under the investment tax credit under Section 48. Finally, it would not extend the credit for energy efficient appliances under Section 45M.

K&L Gates hosted Chairman Wyden for a breakfast meeting on April 8. Wyden stated that he is working with Senate leadership on a strategy that would bring the EXPIRE Act to the Senate floor. Some staff indicate that floor action could occur as early as the next congressional work period, during the weeks of April 28 or May 5. Meanwhile, the House Ways and Means Committee may also consider energy tax incentives soon as part of its planned series of hearings on tax extenders.

We will provide more updates as this debate unfolds over the coming months.

Important Upcoming Energy Storage Events on the US West Coast

There’s a busy week ahead for those who are involved in energy storage on the US West Coast.

In California, the three investor owned utilities (Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric) have now applied to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for review and approval of their energy storage procurement plans.  The plans explain how each IOU intends to procure by 2020 its share of the 1,325 MW energy storage target set by the CPUC in D. 13-10-040.  The CPUC will be holding a workshop to provide information on the applications from 10am to 4pm on Friday, March 14, 2014, at the CPUC’s auditorium at 505 Van Ness Avenue, San Francisco.  There is also a call in number for the workshop: 866-830-4003, Participant passcode: 9869619.

A little to the north of California, energy storage is becoming a focus of attention in Oregon.  Renewables Northwest will be holding its Second Energy Storage Meeting in K&L Gates’ Portland Office, 1 SW Columbia St, 19th Floor, from 10am to Noon on Thursday, March 13.  The meeting will help interested parties prepare for an energy storage workshop organized by the Oregon Department of Energy and the Oregon Public Utility Commission, which will be held from 8am to 4:30pm on Wednesday, March 19 at the White Stag Building, 70 NW Couch St, Portland, OR 97209.   You can register for the workshop here.

Still further north, K&L Gates will be sponsoring a Washington Clean Technology Alliance meeting on Progress and Promise in U.S. Grid Energy Storage, Including Washington State, featuring special presentations by Dr. Imre Gyuk, U.S. Department of Energy, and Richard Locke, Washington State Department of Commerce.  This event will be held on March 20, 2014 from 4:00 to 6:30 pm at K&L Gates’ offices in Seattle, 925 4th Ave, Suite 2900.  Advanced tickets are required, and they’ll be on sale through March 16.  You can obtain tickets for the event here.

K&L Gates attorneys will be attending each of these events, and we look forward to seeing you there!

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