Husch Blackwell partners with the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance (TREIA) once again to present a five-part webinar series focused on the Texas renewable energy industry. The final installment in the New Directions webinar series will discuss the upcoming 2019 regular session of the Texas Legislature and what’s in store for renewable energy.

 

Register for the Texas Legislative Preview webinar to be held on Monday, December 17, 2018 at 12:00pm – 1:00pm CST.

Presenters include:
Jeffrey Clark, President, The Wind Coalition
Mark Vane, Principal, Husch Blackwell Strategies
Chris Reeder, Partner, Husch Blackwell (moderator)

If you missed the previous installments of the New Directions webinar series, the recording for each installment can be found here or you can download the podcast.

May: ERCOT Renewable Energy Market Outlook (Download podcast)

June: Financing Renewable Energy Development (Download podcast)

August: Storage, New Technologies, and Demand Response: Regulatory Outlook and Integration (Download podcast)

October: ERCOT Market Performance: Summer 2018 (Download podcast)

In the latest of the eight-part Renewable Energy Projects Webinar Series, Husch Blackwell’s Chris Reeder and Linda Walsh will discuss the federal and state regulatory approvals often required for typical wind and solar energy projects. They will address the circumstances under which such regulatory approvals are required and the timing needed to apply for and receive the approvals. In addition, they will highlight the issues that commonly arise throughout the approval process.

Register here for the webinar on December 14, 2018, 12:00pm – 1:00pm CST.

If you missed previous installments of the Renewable Energy Projects Webinar Series, a description and link to the recording for each previous installment is listed below.

#1 Transaction Overview – In this first installment of the series, Husch Blackwell attorneys walk through the main stages of a development project at a high level. After a wild end to 2017 and a new tax code, the renewable energy industry adjusted for 2018 and beyond. Margins narrowed and companies searched for efficient, effective ways to cut costs. Listen now.

#2 EPC, O&M and Asset Management Agreements – In the second installment of the series, Husch Blackwell attorneys focus on best practices with respect to Engineering Procurement and Construction (“EPC”) Contracts, Operations and Maintenance (“O&M”) Agreements and Asset Management Agreements. The conversation provides an overview of key agreement provisions and how they can protect against recurrent issues as well as special considerations for negotiating and administering these agreements. Listen now.

#3 Transaction Structuring – HB attorneys discuss how renewable energy project developers can best position themselves during a project’s acquisition and development phases for a successful financing process. Presenters summarize the current PTC and ITC landscape and key qualification components, as well as examine the commercial and legal considerations a developer must keep in mind to ensure that the development and construction of its project stays on schedule and eligible for 100% of the value of available tax credits. Listen now.

#4 Site Assembly – In the fourth installment, HB attorneys discuss best practices for early- and mid-stage site control efforts that will save time and money in later stages, as well as how to avoid common pitfalls. Presenters provide a practical checklist and other tools that can be used during site development to help ensure that due diligence efforts at financing or sale of the project go smoothly. Listen now.

#5 Project Permitting – Husch Blackwell Environmental attorneys discuss the federal, state and local environmental and development permits required for typical wind and solar energy projects. They address the circumstances that trigger the need for a permit, the studies and assessments that are generally performed to evaluate the applicability of permitting requirements, and the timing to apply for and obtain permits. Listen now.

#6 Project Acquisition and Disposition – HB attorneys discuss current issues that arise in the acquisition and disposition of renewable energy projects and how to increase efficiencies throughout the life of the transaction. They address common issues that typically require significant negotiation between the parties, as well as novel issues that require thoughtful consideration, planning and negotiation. Listen now.

#7 Federal and State Regulatory Approvals – Register for the webinar on December 14, 2018, 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Central.
More Info and Registration link

#8 – Purchase Power Agreements (Coming in January 2019)

Husch Blackwell’s Daniel Fanning and Coty Hopinks-Baul provide interesting insights in the latest post from the CWA Series on whether or not a permit is required for discharges to groundwater under the Clean Water Act.
Read more here.

 

Contact Us

For more information about how these decisions may affect your organization, please contact Coty Hopinks-Baul or Daniel Fanning of Husch Blackwell’s Environmental team.

In the United States, the largest category for water consumption is electric power generation. Similarly, the largest demand for electricity is water extraction and distribution (Department of Energy). This strong interdependence drives great opportunity in the Energy-Water Nexus (EWN) to impact both energy and water consumption.

As a proud supporter of the Midwest Energy Research Consortium (M-WERC), we are pleased to advertise their upcoming Energy Water Nexus Technical Conference, being held this Friday, November 16. It is a unique conference specifically designed with an eye towards industrial water and energy users, and will focus on key crosscutting technologies that drive both energy and water efficiency and affordability in manufacturing processes and utility operations.

The conference will feature keynote addresses by Weston Berg from the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and Sara Beaini from the Energy Power Research Institute. Panel topics will include:

  • The Policy Context of the Energy Water Nexus in Manufacturing;
  • Energy and water savings created by membrane and AC drive technology in the manufacturing process and the barriers to wide-adoption;
  • Fostering an Energy Water Nexus focus within a company: Case Studies.

For more information or to register, please click here.

Megan Caldwell was featured in Rock Products discussing the potential for asbestos rock to make a comeback as a result of a recent rule proposed by the Trump Administration. She provides insights into the history, international production and significant new use of asbestos rock. Is asbestos poised to make a comeback? Only time will tell.

Read the full article here.

James Hoecker and Sylvia Bartell authored an article on an October 16, 2018 FERC order in the remand proceeding associated with Emera Maine v. FERC. They provide an overview of the order background, an analysis of FERC’s revised approach and wrap it up with their conclusion about the order. Read their entire article on Law360.

 

A new legislation signed into law in August, the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018 (FIRRMA), will expand vastly the types of foreign investment transactions that the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”) may review. Under the new law, a wide range of foreign investments affecting the U.S. energy sector will be subject to the federal scrutiny.

Overview of the CFIUS Review Process

CFIUS has the authority to review “covered transactions” that might raise national security concern. CFIUS is a US government interagency process, chaired by the Treasury Department. Under the previous law, a “covered transaction” is one that results in foreign control over a U.S. business engaged in interstate commerce, and CFIUS is interested in reviewing a transaction if it raises risk of impairing national security, where the foreign entity is controlled by a foreign government, or if it involves any “critical infrastructure” that could impair the national security.

Critical infrastructure has been defined to mean “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and assets would have a debilitating impact on security, national economic security, national public health or safety, or any combination of those matters.” Through a series of directives, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has identified 16 sectors of the economy as with assets potentially critical to the U.S. infrastructure, including the energy sector.

For each transaction that it reviews, CFIUS’s analysis considers:

  • Threat – whether the foreign acquirer has the capability or intent to exploit or cause harm;
  • Vulnerability – whether the nature of the US target asset creates susceptibility to impairment of national security;
  • Consequences – to US national security of the combination of the threat and vulnerability

This process may result in transactions being suspended, blocked, or modified.

Expansion of “Covered Transactions”

Previously the CFIUS only had jurisdiction to review foreign investments or acquisitions that could result in foreign control over a U.S. Business. After FIRRMA, the new legislation now calls for CFIUS to review a wide range of non-controlling investments made by foreign persons. Among the expanded categories of “covered transactions,” what is particularly relevant to the energy sector is that FIRRMA directs CFIUS to review all investments in US businesses that own, operate, manufacture, supply, or service “critical infrastructure” such as electricity transmission line, pipelines, oil and gas facilities, nuclear, hygro and other power plants, or US businesses that produces, designs, tests, manufactures, fabricates, or develops “critical technologies.” Such foreign investments, even though non-controlling, are subject to review if they afford the foreign person access to any material non-public technical information, membership or observer rights on the board of directors, or any involvement (other than through voting of shares) in substantive decision-making of the business in connection with critical infrastructure or critical technology.

FIRMMA provides the general contours for CFIUS reform, but not the specifics. To achieve broad-based support among competing interests and various US agency members of CFIUS, many concepts of FIRRMA, and especially key definitions relevant to the expansion of the non-controlling “covered transactions” relevant to the “critical infrastructure” and “critical technologies,” are left subject to the regulations to be prescribed by CFIUS. For example, FIRRMA continues to define “critical technologies” to mean “systems and assets, whether physical or virtual, so vital to the United States that the incapacity or destruction of such systems and asses would have a debilitating impact on national security.” And what type of assets will meet this bar are subject to interpretation in the regulations to be prescribed by the Committee. Congress also deferred to CFIUS to prescribe regulations to limit the application of the expanded “covered transactions” to “certain categories of foreign persons.” How broad or narrow those “categories of foreign persons” are and what criteria CFIUS will use to define the categories, remain to be seen.

FIRRMA contains an important carve-out for indirect investments made by a foreign person into an investment fund. In particular, an indirect investment does not constitute investment subject to CFIUS jurisdiction if the investment fund is managed exclusively by a non-foreign general partner; any advisory board membership associated with the investment does not come with an ability to control the fund’s investments or the activities of any portfolio company; and the indirect investor does not as result of advisory board membership, gain access to “material nonpublic technical information.

Declarations – Fast Track Process

One of the most important procedural reforms of FIRRMA is to allow the more simplified “declaration” process for parties who wish to submit them. These declarations will be shorter than fully written notices (i.e., no more than five pages), and FIRRMA requires that CFIUS provide responses to declarations within 30 days. CFIUS may notify the parties that they should file a compete notice, initiate a full review on its own, or clear the transaction. This could be used as a fast track process for parties with less sensitive transactions to secure a confirmatory declaration with a much shorter process.

Effects on CFIUS Filing Process

While FIRRMA aims at reforms that enhance the protection of national security, it does continue to emphasize on the value of continued attraction of foreign investment into the U.S. To that end FIRRMA pointedly directs, that the CFIUS should continue to review transactions for the purpose of protecting national security, and should not consider commercial purposes, or to advance trade or other industrial policy goals.

Some FIRRMA changes to the review process came into effect immediately upon enactment, but the most significant changes will only take into effect until CFIUS certifies the implementing regulations. For example, the expanded “covered transactions” relating to “critical infrastructure” does not go into effect until the implementing regulation is adopted or a pilot program is put in place.

As we previously reported, major changes are going into effect tomorrow concerning California’s Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act, known as Proposition 65. This law requires businesses to notify Californians about significant amounts of chemicals in products in their homes or workplaces, that are released into the environment, or that are present at certain public locations. On August 30, new regulations go into effect that impact the obligations of businesses in order to comply with this law. For more details, see our prior post on this topic, and do not hesitate to reach out to us to help guide you through the Prop 65 changes and how they impact your business.

 

On August 21, 2018, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a prepublication copy of its proposed Affordable Clean Energy (ACE) rule. If adopted, the rule would (1) establish emission guidelines for greenhouse gas emissions from existing electric utility generating units (EGUs); (2) revise the regulations governing how states implement the emission guidelines; and (3) revise the New Source Review (NSR) program to allow modification to existing EGUs without triggering permitting requirements.

The Clean Power Plan regulations adopted by the Obama administration would have limited GHG emissions by directing states to reduce emissions by applying a combination of three “building blocks” as the best system of emission reduction (BSER), which consisted of:

1)    Improving heat rate at affected coal-fired steam generating units;

2)    Substituting increased generation from lower-emitting natural gas combined cycle units for decreased generation from higher-emitting affected steam generating units; and

3)    Substituting increased generation from new zero-emitting renewable energy generating capacity for decreased generation from affected fossil fuel-fired generating units.

Continue Reading EPA’s Affordable Clean Energy Rule Would Limit Emissions Through Heat Rate Improvements at Existing Power Plants