In the closing weeks of 2022, the California Air Resources Board (“CARB” or “Board”) approved its final 2022 Scoping Plan, which sets forth a detailed roadmap to accelerate the reduction of greenhouse gas (“GHG”) emissions in order for the state to achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, with an interim goal of achieving a reduction in GHG emissions of 40% below the 1990 level by 2030 (the goal adopted by the State in 2017’s SB 32).

Continue Reading California Air Resources Board Adopts 2022 Scoping Plan

On November 14, 2022, the Department of Defense (DoD), General Services Administration (GSA), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) published a proposed rule that would amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to require Federal contractors that receive annual Federal contract obligations over a specified amount to disclose their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions[1] and climate-related financial risk, and set science-based targets to reduce GHG emissions.[2] This proposed rule implements section 5(b) of Executive Order 14030, Climate-Related Financial Risk, which we previously wrote about here. The Government will consider comments from interested parties that are submitted by January 13, 2023, after which a final rule will be formulated.

Continue Reading Proposed Rule Requires Contractors to Disclose Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Climate-Related Financial Risk

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (the “Service”) published a proposed rule listing the tricolored bat as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). The tricolored bat occurs in portions of 39 states, including Texas, Iowa, and Oklahoma, which contain a significant concentration of utility-scale wind projects. In combination with the Service’s proposed “endangered” designation for the northern long-eared bat, the new proposed rule could complicate wind energy project permitting across the country.

Continue Reading U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes Listing Tricolored Bat as Endangered Under Endangered Species Act

Offshore wind development off the California coast took another step closer to reality on August 10, 2022 with the California Energy Commission’s release of a report setting maximum feasible capacity and megawatt goals for 2030 and 2045. The report constitutes a milestone in the planning process prescribed by AB 525, which requires that the Commission “evaluate and quantify the maximum feasible capacity of offshore wind to achieve reliability, ratepayer, employment, and decarbonization benefits” for 2030 and 2045.

Continue Reading California Energy Commission Releases Milestone Offshore Wind Energy Report and Sets Maximum Feasible Capacity and Megawatt Planning Goals for 2030 and 2045

On March 11, 2022, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) proposed reverting the definition of “prevailing wage” under the Davis-Bacon Act to a definition used over 40 years ago. According to the DOL, the proposal is meant to modernize the law and “reflect better the needs of workers in the construction industry and planned federal construction investments.”[1]
Continue Reading Turning Back the Clock: DOL Proposes Previous Davis-Bacon Prevailing Wage Definition

As current supply chain issues continue to threaten the U.S. photovoltaic solar industry, solar module suppliers, manufacturers, renewable energy developers and utilities alike face great uncertainty surrounding the immediate future of the solar module supply market. The bottom-line is that supply chain issues are increasing shipping and equipment costs for solar cells and panels, however, there are several independent factors that are working together to drive this surge in pricing and constrained market. These factors include the following:

Continue Reading Making Sense of the Solar Supply Chain Issues

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC” or “Commission”) issued on April 16, 2020 two orders[1] largely denying requests for rehearing of its prior decisions that, among other things, subjected to minimum offer price thresholds energy resources participating in PJM Interconnection, L.L.C.’s (“PJM”) capacity market which receive so-called “State Subsidies”.[2]  FERC  reaffirmed that a resource within broadly-defined categories (e.g., renewable resources) receiving State Subsidies must offer capacity in PJM’s forward capacity market at or above an administratively-established price floor (i.e., the minimum offer price rule, or “MOPR”), regardless of such a resource’s actual incremental costs.  Potential and likely ramifications of the Commission’s actions, arguments opponents of the April 16 Orders are likely to raise and potential paths forward for industry market participants are set forth below.  Additionally, the most promising arguments that could be used to invalidate the April 16 Orders, some of which are discussed below, have not been raised before or addressed by FERC.
Continue Reading FERC Reaffirms Controversial Energy Capacity Decisions: Insights and Analysis

Members of the Sheppard Mullin Energy, Infrastructure and Project Finance Team wrote an article published in the March 16, 2020 edition of Tax Notes Federal regarding the practical impacts on tax equity financing for renewable energy projects of a private letter ruling (“PLR”) published by the IRS in late 2019.  The PLR addressed normalization and loss disallowance rules applicable to public utilities.  These rules have posed significant challenges to public utilities that want to own renewable energy generation facilities, make efficient use of the tax benefits they provide (via the tax equity market) and recover their costs from ratepayers.
Continue Reading Walking the Path of Utilities’ Ownership of Wind and Solar

Last week the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) continued to issue orders, notices, and guidance related to the current novel coronavirus pandemic, the health and safety of FERC and energy industry employees, and the continued reliability of the U.S. energy sector.  A summary of FERC’s relevant actions are provided below, including information regarding FERC’s operating status, extensions for filing deadlines and efforts to ease regulatory burdens during this crisis.
Continue Reading FERC Orders, Notices, and Other Guidance Regarding the Novel Coronavirus