Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Energy & Environmental Law Blog

Analyzing the critical energy and environmental issues of the day

Vidhya Prabhakaran

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Governor Jerry Brown Calls for 50% Renewables by 2030

Posted in California, Renewables
Yesterday during Governor Brown’s inaugural address for his 4th term, the Governor announced 3 ambitious carbon-reduction goals. Increase from 33% to 50% electricity derived from renewable sources; Reduce today’s petroleum use in cars and trucks by up to 50%; and Double the efficiency of existing buildings and making heating fuels cleaner. Stay tuned. This means lots … Continue Reading

California Air Resources Board-Commissioned Report Recommends Ways to Avoid Price Volatility in California’s Cap and Trade Market

Posted in California, Cap and Trade
Concerned about the potential for price volatility in its cap and trade program, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) commissioned the Market Simulation Group (MSG) at the University of California Energy Institute to look at the issue and make recommendations.  The MSG issued its report last month, entitled “Report of the Market Simulation Group on … Continue Reading

Small Solar Generators to Find It Easier to Connect to the Grid

Posted in Federal, Renewables
Yesterday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) unanimously approved a rule that would reduce existing hurdles for small solar generators attempting to connect to the electric grid, an especially helpful move in states in which the solar industry is booming. Stemming from a petition filed last year by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the … Continue Reading

New Renewable RFOs in California on the Horizon

Posted in California, Renewables, Rulemakings
By accepting the renewable procurement plans of the various California utilities, the Commission has authorized the utilities to issue Request for Offers (“RFOs”) in mid-to-late December.   Shortlists must be submitted to the Commission in late March 2014. Importantly, shortlisted bidders are no longer restricted to negotiating with only one utility… Continue Reading

FERC Relaxes Rules for Sales of Ancillary Services at Market-Based Rates

Posted in Federal, Rulemakings
From energy partner Jim Mitchell of our DC office: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has expanded the ability of owners of generation facilities to sell certain generation-related ancillary services needed by public utility transmission providers at market-based rates.  In its order, the FERC explained that it was doing so to foster competition and transparency in … Continue Reading

PTC Update: IRS Plans to Release Guidance on Applying the “Begun Construction” Test

Posted in Federal, Renewables
DWT tax partner Pamela Charles reports: According to Tax Notes Today, the IRS discussed its plans to release guidance on applying the “begun construction” test for the production tax credit (“PTC”) at the American Bar Association Section of Taxation meeting in Orlando, Florida last week.  As reported in our January 2, 2013 blog post, this was one … Continue Reading

Rep. Waxman, Sen. Whitehouse & Rep. Markey Form Bicameral Task Force on Climate Change

Posted in Uncategorized
From Craig Gannett of DWT’s Seattle office: Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), today announced the formation of a bicameral task force on climate change.  Their letter essentially urges the President to aggressively pursue GHG emission reductions under existing law, implicitly recognizing that no new legislation is possible … Continue Reading

Montana Bankruptcy Court Confirms Electricity Is a “Good” Under the Bankruptcy Code

Posted in Northwest, Uncategorized
From DWT bankruptcy partner Hugh McCullough: The United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Montana in connection with In re Southern Montana Electric Generation and Transmission Cooperative, Inc. held that electricity was a “good” for purposes of section 503(b)(9) of the Bankruptcy Code. That means that anyone sells electricity to a person who later … Continue Reading

More Information About the Extension of the Production Tax Credit

Posted in Renewables
DWT tax partner, Pamela Charles explains: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which was passed by Congress to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” extends certain federal income tax benefits for renewable energy projects, including: Extending the production tax credit (PTC) for wind projects by one year and changing from a “placed in service” to a … Continue Reading

Production Tax Credit Extended For Another Year

Posted in Renewables
More information about this later, but Congress has extended the Production Tax Credit (“PTC”) for wind as part of its agreement to avoid the fiscal cliff.   The new sunset date for the PTC for wind is through December 31, 2013. Interestingly, reports indicate that Congress also appears to have modified what facilities are eligible … Continue Reading

Production Tax Credit extended

Posted in Federal, Renewables
DWT tax partner, Pamela Charles explains: The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which was passed by Congress to avoid the “fiscal cliff,” extends certain federal income tax benefits for renewable energy projects, including: Extending the production tax credit (PTC) for wind projects by one year and changing from a “placed in service” to a “begun construction” deadline.  Now, … Continue Reading

PG&E Issues Its 2012 Renewables Portfolio Standard Request for Offers

Posted in California, Renewables
At long last, PG&E finally issued its 2012 Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) Request For Offers (RFO).  PG&E is seeking offers to procure approximately 1,000 GWh per year of renewable energy from long-term Power Purchase Agreements and Renewable Energy Credit Purchase Agreements (so they will accept offers of products that would qualify for any of the … Continue Reading

CleanPowerSF: Political Correctness Trumps Energy Policy

Posted in California, Uncategorized
Read what my colleagues Steve Greenwald and Jeff Gray have to say about why CleanPowerSF is an exercise in political correctness in the latest edition of Power Magazine. My favorite quote and teaser:  ”CleanPowerSF represents yet another Balkanizing, politically motivated misadventure in energy policy.&#… Continue Reading

FERC Suspension of Market-Based Rate Authority May Affect Existing Power Supply Arrangement

Posted in Federal, Rulemakings
From our colleague Jim Mitchell in DC: The authority of J. P. Morgan Ventures Energy Corporation (“JP Morgan”) to sell electric energy, capacity, and ancillary services at market-based rates for six months, beginning in April 2013, was recently suspended by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (the “FERC”) for violation of certain FERC rules. Although the … Continue Reading

California Public Utilities Commission to Consider New Proposals to Improve Renewables Portfolio Standard Procurement Process

Posted in California, Renewables, Rulemakings
On Oct. 5, 2012, Commissioner Mark Ferron of the California Public Utilities Commission (“Commission”) issued a 39-page ruling including a number of proposals to improve California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) procurement process. Specifically, he proposed an: [E]ffort to streamline the RPS contract review process, increase the transparency of the Commission’s review of RPS procurement, establish … Continue Reading

Renewables Portfolio Standard Rulemaking to Continue

Posted in Renewables, Rulemakings
Having dispensed with many of the preliminary issues regarding the new and improved 33% by 2020 Renewables Portfolio Standard, Commissioner Ferron issued a new scoping ruling on Wednesday providing a preliminary list of issues for the remainder of the proceeding. The scoping ruling extends the proceeding for another two years, however no specific procedural guideline … Continue Reading

California to Explore Residential Rate Design

Posted in California, Rulemakings, Smart Grid
Residential rates and rate design have traditionally been a bit of a “sacred cow” in California that regulators have simply chosen not to mess with.  But no more. On Monday, I attended the first workshop in the new residential rate design rulemaking at the Commission (R.12-06-013) that is aimed at determining the appropriate policy directives in … Continue Reading

Pre-AB 32 Contracts: Are generators entitled to some relief for their greenhouse gas costs?

Posted in California, Cap and Trade, Climate Change, Renewables, Rulemakings
Generators that may have executed bilateral contracts with a California utility prior to the passage of Assembly Bill 32 (AB 32) in California such that their contract does not have specific terms and conditions assigning greenhouse gas cost responsibility should be aware that the matter of whether the generator is entitled to some sort of … Continue Reading

Senate Bill 1018 Throws Monkeywrench Into Greenhouse Gas Allowance Revenues

Posted in Cap and Trade, Climate Change, Federal, Rulemakings
The California Public Utilities Commission has been holding a rulemaking since March 2011 to determine what to do with the revenues that utilities will receive as a result of the direct allocation of greenhouse gas allowances to electrical distribution utilities in the state as a result of the new cap and trade program. As you … Continue Reading

FERC to Revise Rules for Allocation of New Transmission Capacity By Non-Incumbent Developers

Posted in Federal, Uncategorized
From our colleague Jim Mitchell in our DC Office. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has proposed to provide developers of new merchant transmission projects and new cost-based, participant-funded transmission projects with increased flexibility to offer terms and conditions of service that may be desired by potential transmission service customers.  Under this proposal, transmission developers would … Continue Reading

Proposed Settlement Between Environmental Groups and Federal Agencies Would Revise Procedures for Designation of Western Energy Corridors

Posted in California, Federal, Renewables
From my D.C. colleague Jim Mitchell: Procedures for designation of West-wide Energy Corridors pursuant to Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 are to be revised to allay concerns that (i) construction of energy-related facilities within such corridors would adversely affect environmentally sensitive areas and (ii) that procedures for designation of such corridors … Continue Reading

FERC Proposes to Revise Definition of “Bulk Electric System” for Determining Who Must Comply with Federal Reliability Standards

Posted in Federal, Rulemakings
From my D.C. colleague Jim Mitchell: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NOPR) to revise the definition of “Bulk Electric System” (BES). This definition is important because it determines which transmission system elements are subject to mandatory electric reliability standards designed to ensure the uninterrupted operation of the … Continue Reading