U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced that President Trump has implemented tariffs on imported solar cells and modules. The tariffs will be in effect for four years and include 30% tariffs on imported solar cells and modules for the first year, with the tariffs decreasing to 15% by the fourth year. Also, the first 2.5 gigawatts of cells imported each year will be exempt from the tariffs. The U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) previously determined that increased imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells were a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry producing competing articles. The USITC later issued remedy recommendations, including tariffs, to be considered by President Trump. For more information about the President’s decision, please see the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative fact sheet here.

The Wind Energy Foundation released a report finding that upgrades and investment in transmission infrastructure is necessary to keep up with corporate demand for renewable energy. As the price of solar and wind energy has fallen, corporate demand for renewable energy has increased to a point that existing transmission lines are inadequate to provide access to such energy. Since 2013, U.S. corporations have committed to buying roughly 9 GW of wind and solar power and in 2016, the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance set a target of purchasing an additional 60 GW of renewable energy by 2025. According to the report, transmission planners and regulators must approve plans to expand and upgrade transmission lines and FERC must improve their transmission planning process. With much of the renewable energy development taking place in the central U.S., long-distance transmission will be required to provide the renewable energy to major cities on the coasts. The full Wind Energy Foundation report can be found here.

The Second Session of the 115th Congress has officially kicked-off what promises to be an interesting and exciting new year. In the link below you will find an update from Troutman Sanders Strategies on the fast-approaching midterm elections and how federal policy decisions will be affected in 2018. The outlook describes the policy issues Congress and the administration may address over the coming months, provide information on members who have left or are leaving Congress, and analyze how those departures will affect leadership positions on congressional committees.

Read the full report here.

In his State of the State speech on January 3, 2018, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced an ambitious, multifaceted clean energy and climate change agenda. The principal objectives are as follows:

  • Expand Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative and Reduce Emissions Equitably From the Highest-Polluting, High Demand “Peaker” Power Plants
  • Issue Solicitations in 2018 and 2019 to Develop at Least 800 MW of Offshore Wind Projects and Foster Offshore Wind Industry and Workforce in New York State
  • $200 Million Investment to Meet Unprecedented Energy Storage Target of 1,500 Megawatts by 2025 In Order to Increase Transmission of Clean and Renewable Energy
  • Create the Zero Cost Solar for All Program for 10,000 Low-Income New Yorkers
  • Reconvene Scientific Advisory Committee on Climate Change Disbanded by the Federal Government
  • Governor Directs the Establishment of Energy Efficiency Target by Earth Day
  • Regulations to Close all Coal Plants to be Adopted

Continue Reading Governor Cuomo Announces Climate Change Agenda – Offshore Wind and Energy Storage Stand to Benefit

On December 22, 2017, the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI) reversed course and issued a Memorandum interpreting the scope of criminal liability under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) and its applicability to “incidental takings,” which the Memorandum defines as a death or other “take” that “results from an activity, but [that] is not the purpose of that activity.” In short, the Memorandum concludes that criminal liability under the MBTA should not be interpreted to extend to incidental takes, and instead only applies to “affirmative actions that has as their purpose the taking or killing of migratory birds, their nests, or their eggs.” This Memorandum will provide significant needed clarity to renewable energy projects and many other industries that perform activities with the potential to indirectly, and non-purposefully, impact migratory birds during development, construction, or operation. Continue Reading Trump Administration Narrows the Scope of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act

The House and Senate Conference Committee reached agreement on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) last Friday, December 15, 2017. The text of the bill (the Conference Agreement) is available here. Prior coverage of the House bill and a prior version of the Senate bill is available here and here, respectively.

PTC and ITC

The Conference Agreement, following the Senate bill, will not change the PTC or ITC from the current law phase-down.

Corporate Tax Rates

The Conference Agreement will lower the highest corporate tax rate to 21% beginning in 2018.

Continue Reading Conference Committee Reaches Agreement on Tax Reform Bill

On Monday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released its Renewables Portfolio Standard Annual Report announcing that the State is on track to meet its renewables portfolio standard (RPS) requirement of 50% ten years ahead of schedule. The California RPS sets a requirement that 33% of electricity retail sales be served by renewable resources by 2020, and 50% by 2030. But with aggressive investment in renewables the State’s three large investor owned utilities (IOUs) may achieve the 50% goal by the 2020 deadline, ten years early. Continue Reading CPUC: California May Achieve The 50% RPS Goal By 2020, 10 Years Ahead of Schedule

Originally Posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

The California Independent System Operator Corp. (“CAISO”) is moving forward on a slate of proposals which are intended to enhance grid reliability.  These proposals include addressing issues related to generation retirement, entering into a specific reliability must-run contract, modifications to incentives related to the resource adequacy program, as well as adjusting the compensation given to its Board of Governors (the “Board”).  On November 2, 2017, the Board approved the four proposals, and CAISO will file any resulting tariff related changes with FERC at a later date.   Continue Reading CAISO Board Approves Proposals to Enhance Grid Reliability

Yesterday the Joint Committee on Taxation released a description and revenue estimate of the Senate Finance Committee Chairman’s mark up of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. The Senate Finance Committee has not released bill language yet but may do so as early as next week. The Senate bill differs in significant respects from the House bill, which we summarized here.

PTC and ITC

Unlike the House bill, the Senate bill would not change the PTC or ITC.

Corporate Tax Rates

Like the House bill, the Senate bill would lower the highest corporate tax rate from 35% to 20%. However, the Senate bill would not reduce the rate until tax years beginning after 2018, one year later than the House bill. Continue Reading Impact of Senate Tax Reform Bill on Renewable Energy Projects

On Thursday, Representative Kevin Brady (R. Tex.), Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), the long-awaited and much-anticipated tax reform bill, along with a summary and FAQs . The TCJA contains several provisions of interest to the renewable energy industry. Continue Reading House Republicans Release Tax Reform Bill