Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On March 8, 2018, President Donald Trump signed an order that enacts tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from all overseas countries, while exempting Canada and Mexico from such tariffs for now.  The proclamations signed by the President will institute a tariff of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum imports.  The tariffs are expected to become effective March 23, 2018.

The Trump administration’s efforts to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports came after a nine month investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, led by the Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross (see March 5, 2018 edition of the WER).  The investigations were initiated in April 2017 and designed to determine whether such imports “threaten or impair the national security.”  When the Section 232 reports were finalized on March 1, 2018, the Commerce Department determined that import competition harms the domestic production of aluminum and steel, and tariffs would strengthen the economic footing of steel and aluminum corporations. Continue Reading Trump Orders Steel and Aluminum Tariffs

As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (the “Act”), Congress extended and increased the 45Q tax credits for carbon capture and storage (“CCS”) projects. The Act increased credits for enhanced oil recovery from $10 per ton to $35 per ton and increased the credits for geological carbon storage from $20 per ton to $50 per ton. Raising capital for CCS projects has long been an issue, and developers of CCS projects often do not have the tax appetite to take full advantage of the tax credits available. The extension of the 45Q credits would allow large CCS projects to generate hundreds of millions of dollars a year, incentivizing tax equity investors to step in and provide funding for projects in order to reap the considerable tax benefits, similar to the tax equity deal structures seen in the renewable energy sector. While the 45Q credits makes CCS projects more viable, CCS technology is still very expensive and cost-cutting advances will likely need to be developed before a CCS project market is able to thrive.



Hayden Baker has joined Troutman Sanders LLP as a partner in the firm’s Capital Projects and Infrastructure Practice. Baker, who is based in the firm’s New York office, previously practiced at Sullivan & Worcester LLP. Baker assists clients in mergers and acquisitions, energy and infrastructure projects, real estate deals and financing transactions. He has represented companies, private equity investors and financial institutions in hundreds of transactions totaling more than $100 billion in investment and regularly advises clients in the energy, chemicals, technology and infrastructure sectors.

“Hayden’s broad transactional background and environmental expertise as well as his private equity relationships make him an ideal fit for the firm and our clients,” said Amie Colby, chair of the firm’s Energy and Regulatory Department.

“Hayden’s sophisticated yet practical approach to transactions will benefit our clients in New York and beyond,” said Craig Kline, New York managing partner. “He has significant experience in mergers and acquisitions within energy markets and is a welcome addition to our growing team.”

Troutman Sanders’ New York office now boasts nearly 100 attorneys and spans diverse practices. The firm’s Capital Projects and Infrastructure group represents investors, lenders, utilities, independent power producers and developers in energy and other infrastructure projects throughout the United States and around the world. The practice specializes in designing unique financing structures for the clean energy markets and is continually involved in some of the largest utility-scale solar projects in the nation.

“Troutman Sanders’ broad capabilities within the energy and infrastructure industries align well with my practice,” Baker said. “I look forward to working with the team to continue to deliver on behalf of my clients.”

Baker received his bachelor’s degree from Middlebury College and his J.D. from American University.

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (“SACE”) released its Solar in the Southeast 2017 Annual Report (the “2017 Report”) which projects the Southeast region of the United States (including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee) to continue its exponential solar growth, reaching 15,000 MW of solar by 2021. In 2017, the Southeast had just under 6,000 MW of solar power. Currently, North Carolina leads the way with 2,699 MW of solar, followed by Georgia with 1,222 MW and Florida with 839 MW. According to the 2017 Report, Florida utilities are expected to invest heavily in solar power over the coming years, and Florida’s solar generation is expected to surpass Georgia’s generation by the end of 2018. While the rapid growth of solar in the Southeast is impressive, even if the Southeast reaches the projected 15,000 MW in 2021, solar generation would constitute less than 3% of retail sales. The 2017 Report explains that solar growth in the Southeast is dominated by utility-scale projects, and smaller residential and commercial solar projects are expected to comparatively lag due to the monopoly utility structure in place in most Southeastern states. SACE stresses that the region has immense solar potential, second only to the desert Southwest, and even more solar growth should be encouraged. For more information, see the 2017 Report here.


An ambitious bill introduced in the Massachusetts’ Senate proposes to accelerate expansion to the state’s renewable energy sector. Along with implementing a market-based system to reduce emissions, the bill also aims to increase the required growth rate of the state’s renewable portfolio from 1% to 3% per year. Specific goals and proposals for solar, wind and energy storage are included in the bill. Continue Reading Massachusetts Bill Aims to Accelerate Renewable Energy Transition

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On February 15, 2018, FERC issued a notice that staff will hold a technical conference on April 10-11, 2018 to discuss the participation of distributed energy resources (“DER”) in markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators.  As FERC stated in the notice, the two-day conference will host several panels on two broad DER-related agendas: first, to continue considering the DER-related reforms initially proposed in the rulemaking culminating in the concurrently-issued Order No. 841 on electric storage participation in organized markets; and second, to broadly explore issues related to the potential effects of DERs on the bulk power system. Continue Reading FERC Establishes Technical Conference on Participation of Distributed Energy Resources in Organized Markets

In response to concerns regarding the changing nature of the nation’s energy supply portfolio and the emergence of promising energy storage technologies, the Commission in recent years issued several notices of inquiry, notice of proposed rulemaking, and policy statements regarding various energy storage and ancillary service supply issues. Additionally, the Commission considered but ultimately declined to pursue the Department of Energy-initiated rulemaking on grid resiliency and reliability. On February 15, 2018, however, the Commission took concrete action by issuing a pair of Final Rules, addressing (i) storage participation in regional markets; and (ii) the provision of primary frequency response, a critical grid support service. Continue Reading FERC Issues Final Rules on Electric Storage Participation in RTOs/ISOs and Primary Frequency Response for New Generators

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 signed by President Trump on February 11th, included a package of tax credits that may be a boost for renewable energy development and storage projects. The deal extends tax credits for the so-called “orphan” renewable energy technologies along with nuclear power production. Continue Reading “Orphaned” Energy Tax Credits Included in Budget Deal

Originally posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report

On February 12, 2018, the White House issued its proposed framework for an infrastructure bill to Congress.  Notably, the White House’s infrastructure plan proposes to (1) establish a firm deadline of 21 months for lead agencies to complete their National Environmental Policy Act (“NEPA”) reviews and an additional 3 months thereafter to approve or deny a permit (i.e., a decision on an interstate natural gas pipeline project or hydropower license application must be made within 2 years of the application); and (2) amend the Clean Water Act (“CWA”) to set a deadline for a state agency to determine whether a CWA section 401 certificate application is complete.

The infrastructure plan, titled “Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America,” provides a framework for a bill with four key components: (1) funding and financing infrastructure improvements; (2) provisions for road transportation, water infrastructure, veterans affairs property, and land revitalization improvements; (3) infrastructure permitting improvements; and (4) workforce development.  In the proposal, the White House asks Congress to quickly act on an infrastructure bill that would “stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over the next 10 years, shorten the process for approving projects to 2 years or less, address unmet rural infrastructure needs, empower State and local authorities, and train the American workforce of the future.”

Of note, the White House proposes to streamline the NEPA process, including FERC’s environmental reviews of applications for interstate natural gas pipeline projects and hydropower licenses.  With respect to NEPA reviews, the White House proposes to, among other things:

• Establish a firm deadline of 21 months for lead agencies to complete their NEPA reviews;

• Establish a deadline of 3 months after the NEPA review for the agency to approve or deny the project.  This 3-month deadline would also apply to permits issued by state agencies acting pursuant to delegated authority.  The plan adds that “[a]ppropriate enforcement mechanisms would be established to ensure that permit decisions are issued”;

• Clarify that an agency is not required to consider alternatives that are outside its jurisdiction during the NEPA review; and

• Require the Council on Environmental Quality to revise its regulations to streamline the NEPA process.

The White House also proposes to amend the CWA to set a deadline for state agencies to determine whether an application for a CWA section 401 certificate is complete and to clarify the deadline for a state decision on the application.  In doing so, the White House notes that states currently have up to 1 year to act on an application, or the requirement is waived.  The White House continues, however, that states often fail to act within the 1-year period or require applicants to re-file a more complete application prior to the 1-year deadline, “which produces a loop of repeated lack of issuance and re-filing.”

The White House concludes that its infrastructure plan “will strengthen the economy, make our country more competitive, reduce the costs of goods and services for American families, and enable Americans to build their lives on top of the best infrastructure in the world.”

A copy of the White House’s infrastructure plan is available here.

In 2017, there were a record number of solar policies debated in state legislatures and commissions, with nearly every state considering some kind of solar policy or rate change. Recently, the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) released its 50 States of Solar report which reviews solar policies and initiatives across the nation. In its report NCCETC found that there were 249 state actions on solar policies in 2017: 34% were related to residential fixed charges and minimum bill increases, 27% were distributed generation (DG) compensation policies, and 12% were community solar policies. The actions took place in 45 States plus the District of Columbia. That is up by 17% from 212 actions in 2016 and 42% from the 175 actions in 2015.   Continue Reading State-level Solar Policy Actions up 17% in 2017