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.  
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On Monday, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) issued its “Master Plan” to develop the state’s offshore wind resources and establish 2,400 MW of offshore wind generation by 2030. The plan is a component of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) strategy to build clean and affordable energy systems across the state in an effort to achieve New York’s Clean Energy Standard with a goal of 50% renewable generation by 2030.
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While hydroelectric generation has historically been the largest source of renewable electricity generation, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects wind power to surpass hydro and become the largest renewable generation source sometime in the next two years. 2017 was a relatively wet year with hydro providing 7.4% of total utility-scale generation. But with only a handful of new hydro plant slated to come online in the next two years, hydroelectric generation will depend largely on water runoff and precipitation. Currently, the EIA predicts that hydro will be slightly lower in 2018 and 2019, and will produce 6.5% and 6.6% of utility-scale generation respectively. Although weather also greatly affects wind generation, output forecasts from wind are more dependent on capacity and the timing of new facilities coming online.

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Originally Posted on Troutman Sanders’ Washington Energy Report 

On January 18, 2018, FERC approved California Independent System Operator Corporation’s (“CAISO”) changes to its resource adequacy program to, among other things, (1) allow capacity located in a local capacity area, but procured as system capacity, to provide system substitution capacity during forced outages and (2) cap a load serving entity’s (“LSE”) monthly local capacity requirement at its monthly system capacity requirement.

CAISO and the local regulatory authorities within its footprint administer the resource adequacy program to ensure that LSEs procure enough transmission system capacity to meet their forecasted load, plus a reserve margin set by their local regulatory authority.  Additionally, LSEs are required to procure local area capacity—capacity capable of meeting capacity requirements in a transmission-constrained area and that is also located within that area—and flexible resource adequacy capacity—resources that can ramp up and down quickly to manage variability.  Moreover, LSEs must submit annual and monthly resource adequacy plans to CAISO demonstrating that they have procured enough capacity to meet their forecasted load and reserve margin, while scheduling coordinators for resource adequacy resources submit annual and monthly supply plans that CAISO uses to verify that LSEs are meeting their resource adequacy requirements.
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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

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


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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.
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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.


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